Photo Credit: Jewish Press

Cuomo’s Fate Is In The Hands Of The Assembly

The Assembly Judiciary Committee, comprised of 15 Democrats and six Republicans, will be reviewing information and taking testimony regarding Governor Andrew Cuomo’s alleged mishandling of nursing home deaths, creating a hostile work environment in the Executive Chamber and intimidating young female workers while working and during off-hours.


The state Attorney General, Letitia James (D – Crown Heights, Brooklyn), will be conducting her own independent investigation at the same time the Assembly assesses the credibility of the accusations.

There are three Jewish legislators on the committee:  Phil Steck (Colonie, Albany County), Dan Quart (Upper East Side, Manhattan) and David Weprin (Holliswood, Queens). Steck and Quart, who is running for Manhattan District Attorney, have each called for Cuomo to step down. Weprin, a candidate for New York City Comptroller and a long time friend of the Cuomo family, is reserving judgment.

“We are to do our own independent investigation,” Weprin told The Jewish Press. “It will be done simultaneously with the Attorney General. I’m open-minded. I’m not going to prejudge any facts or any investigation. I don’t want to prejudge what comes out of the investigation and what the ultimate outcome may or may not be. We’ll see where the facts go and see what happens. The allegations are taken as serious allegations but they are still allegations. It’s a bit too early to predetermine the results of the investigation. If we don’t have subpoena power, the Speaker will grant us subpoena power to move forward with this investigation.”

One slight glitch and a dirty little secret is that the process is rigged, as a majority of the members, 11, have already called on the governor to be ousted from his position.

The governor has stated that legislators who want him to resign have ulterior motives that go beyond seeking the truth.

“Politicians take positions for all sorts of reasons, including political expediency and pressure,” Cuomo said during a recent telephone news conference. “People know the difference between playing politics, bowing to cancel culture, and the truth. My statement could not be clearer, I never harassed anyone, I never assaulted anyone, I never abused anyone.”

Cuomo continues to maintain his innocence and refuses to step aside.

“Questions have been raised about some of my past interactions with people in the office,” Cuomo wrote in a prepared statement two weeks ago. “I never intended to offend anyone or cause any harm. I spend most of my life at work and colleagues are often also personal friends.

“At work sometimes I think I am being playful and make jokes that I think are funny. I do, on occasion, tease people in what I think is a good natured way. I do it in public and in private. You have seen me do it at briefings hundreds of times. I have teased people about their personal lives, their relationships, about getting married or not getting married. I mean no offense and only attempt to add some levity and banter to what is a very serious business.

“I now understand that my interactions may have been insensitive or too personal and that some of my comments, given my position, made others feel in ways I never intended. I acknowledge some of the things I have said have been misinterpreted as an unwanted flirtation. To the extent anyone felt that way, I am truly sorry about that.

“To be clear, I never inappropriately touched anybody and I never propositioned anybody and I never intended to make anyone feel uncomfortable, but these are allegations that New Yorkers deserve answers to.

“That’s why I have asked for an outside, independent review that looks at these allegations.

“Separately, my office has heard anecdotally that some people have reached out to Ms. Bennett to express displeasure about her coming forward. My message to anyone doing that is you have misjudged what matters to me and my administration and you should stop now – period. Ms. Bennett was a hardworking and valued member of our team during Covid. She has every right to speak out.

“When she came to me and opened up about being a sexual assault survivor and how it shaped her and her ongoing efforts to create an organization that empowered her voice to help other survivors, I tried to be supportive and helpful. Ms. Bennett’s initial impression was right: I was trying to be a mentor to her. I never made advances toward Ms. Bennett nor did I ever intend to act in any way that was inappropriate. The last thing I would ever have wanted was to make her feel any of the things that are being reported.

“This situation cannot and should not be resolved in the press; I believe the best way to get to the truth is through a full and thorough outside review and I am directing all state employees to comply with that effort. I ask all New Yorkers to await the findings of the review so that they know the facts before making any judgments. I will have no further comment until the review has concluded.”

One of the members of the Assembly Judiciary Committee, Michael Tannousis (R – Staten Island / Brooklyn) was a prosecutor in the Bronx and Staten Island District Attorney’s offices.

“This impeachment inquiry into the long list of allegations against the governor is essential to preserving the rule of law and ensuring justice,” the freshman Republican said in a prepared statement. “The volume and severity of the claims against the governor have necessitated our legislative duty to investigate and, if necessary, impeach the governor.

Even though Tannousis has already called for the governor to resign, he claims, “I am committed to a transparent and full investigation of the governor to ensure accountability and trust in our state government.”

As for the media coverage of these allegations, please note a bit of caution in what you are reading. Most of these stories are spoon-fed items from attorneys who want to see their names in the newspaper. Many of the allegations that are written are not corroborated with second source attribution. For all we know the stories could be made up by the accusers. There was one article written by the Albany Times Union citing an unnamed accuser through a friend. In any court of law we know that is hearsay evidence. Many of the newspaper editorial boards, who have endorsed the governor, have called for Cuomo to step down without knowing all the facts, just based on accusations.

Personally, I have been on the side of false accusations and it is not a pleasant experience. I’m just thankful I never had a high profile position while trudging through making the situation correct.

Currently, the Assembly Speaker’s office is spreading lies and rumors that I was a paid lobbyist while being a reporter and should not have the same access to state lawmakers my colleagues have. I would never and have never gone over that transom. It’s a situation that possibly only a lawsuit will resolve.

Be weary, my readers, the fix is in for the governor after the budget is completed. My prediction is the Assembly Judiciary Committee already has the 11 votes to recommend the impeachment proceedings move forward. Assembly Democrats are holding the vote in the Judiciary Committee over the governor’s head so they can get the most out of the budget. There are not enough votes in the full 150-member Assembly as of this writing to move the impeachment proceedings to the Senate for a trial. There are, however, enough votes in the Senate to impeach. The governor’s future is in the hands of the full Assembly.

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Marc Gronich is the owner and news director of Statewide News Service. He has been covering government and politics for 44 years, since the administration of Hugh Carey. He is an award-winning journalist. His Albany Beat column appears monthly in The Jewish Press and his coverage about how Jewish life intersects with the happenings at the state Capitol appear weekly in the newspaper. You can reach Mr. Gronich at [email protected].