IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Feds were investigating Cuomo sexual harassment allegations, document shows

A Cuomo spokesman said that the Justice Department's Civil Division "opened an inquiry in August" and that "we have heard nothing since.”
Image: NYS Gov. Andrew Cuomo during 2019 State of State address
Andrew Cuomo, then the governor of New York, delivers his State of the State and Budget address in Albany on Jan. 15, 2019.J. Conrad Williams, Jr. / Newsday RM via Getty Images file

The Justice Department was investigating sexual harassment claims against former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, according to a state contract made public Thursday.

It is unclear whether the inquiry, which was first reported by the New York Post, continues. A Justice Department spokeswoman declined to comment.

The investigation was mentioned in a contract with a law firm working for the state's executive chamber — the governor's office. The contract, which is dated Oct. 28 and was approved by the state comptroller's office this week, notes that the Justice Department has "undertaken an inquiry related to sexual harassment claims made against the then Governor."

Rich Azzopardi, a spokesman for Cuomo, said, “Our understanding is that the Civil Division opened an inquiry in August based upon the AG’s politically motivated sham report and we have heard nothing since.”

August was when state Attorney General Letitia James' office released a bombshell report alleging that Cuomo had harassed 11 women — nine of whom were state employees — and subjected some of them to unwelcome touching or groping. His office retaliated against one of the women after she spoke out about how she was treated, the report alleged.

Cuomo, who has denied intentionally harassing anyone, resigned a week after the report was released. He and his allies have claimed that he was railroaded by James, a fellow Democrat who has since then launched her own campaign for governor.

The contract between the executive chamber and the law firm Willkie Farr & Gallagher also mentions other investigations targeting Cuomo that had previously been reported.

"The Department of Justice and other law enforcement or investigative entities have made inquiries or requests for information related to the chamber's Covid-19 pandemic response, including related to nursing homes, publication of a Covid-related book authored by then-Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and other pandemic related matters," the contract says.

In a report that was made public late last month, the state Assembly's Judiciary Committee found that Cuomo had used state employees to help write, edit and promote a book for which he was paid more than $5 million, even though he had agreed not to use state resources for the project. The report also found that he was not "fully transparent" about the number of Covid deaths in the state's nursing homes.

The 46-page report also found "overwhelming evidence" in support of allegations that Cuomo sexually harassed numerous women.

Cuomo has insisted that any work on the book by state employees was voluntary and "incidental." He has previously denied any wrongdoing involving the nursing home data, which is the subject of an investigation by the U.S. Attorney's Office in Brooklyn.

Cuomo's lawyer, Rita Glavin, also discounted the Assembly report's findings of harassment, saying the report "simply parrots the attorney general's flawed report, failing to engage with the many errors and omissions in the AG’s report and her one-sided, biased investigation."

Cuomo has denied touching anyone inappropriately but acknowledged that he may have acted in ways that made people feel uncomfortable. When he resigned, Cuomo apologized for his behavior but insisted that he had not intended to harass any of his accusers.

He was charged with misdemeanor forcible touching involving one of the women mentioned in James' report in October. He is due in court in the case next month.

Glavin has said Cuomo "never assaulted anyone," and she has suggested that his prosecution was politically motivated.