New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s office has abandoned plans to select an investigator to look into sexual harassment allegations made against him. The office said Sunday it would instead ask the state attorney general and an appeals court judge to select a lawyer to conduct an independent review.
Cuomo, one of the most prominent Democratic politicians in the country, whose popularity soared in the early months of the pandemic, has been dogged in recent weeks by a string of controversies, including over his administration’s response to the high number of COVID-19 deaths in New York State nursing homes.
Cuomo’s office said it wants a “flawless” investigation after two former female employees recently accused the governor of sexual misconduct. The governor has denied the charges against him.
On Saturday, the office said it had selected former federal judge Barbara Jones to lead the investigation but now wants to prevent it from being perceived as a lack of independence or as political interference.
The office said it had asked the New York State Attorney General and the chief judge of the Court of Appeals to jointly select an independent lawyer with no political bias who would conduct a thorough review and produce a public report.
“All employees of the governor’s office will cooperate fully. We will refrain from further comment until the report is published,”said Cuomo’s special adviser, Beth Garvey.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki called for an independent review of the allegations against Cuomo.
“President Biden has consistently said that he believes that every woman should be heard, that every woman should be treated with respect and dignity,” Psaki said, noting that this applies to Charlotte Bennett and Lindsey Boylan, who brought charges against Cuomo.
“There should be (an) independent review of these allegations, which is something that he (Cuomo) undoubtedly supports,”Psaki added.