USA TODAY US Edition

Probe sought of aide’s claims

Group: Cuomo accuser deserves to be heard

- Joseph Spector

ALBANY, N.Y. – A bipartisan group of state lawmakers wants an independen­t investigat­ion into allegation­s by a former aide to Gov. Andrew Cuomo that he sexually harassed her from 2016 through 2018.

Lindsey Boylan, a former economic developmen­t aide, posted an essay online Wednesday that contends Cuomo kissed her on the lips during a one-onone meeting in his office in 2018 and asked her to play strip poker. Cuomo’s office denied the claims. Assemblyma­n Harry Bronson, DRochester, said he’s a former employee rights attorney, and “I have represente­d far too many women who have been subjected to sexual harassment in the workplace.”

In a statement, he said, “Now that Ms. Boylan has put these claims forward, she deserves the opportunit­y to have her allegation­s thoroughly reviewed by an independen­t body and any appropriat­e steps taken upon those findings.” Government watchdogs have derided New York for not having a strong independen­t watchdog body to investigat­e potential wrongdoing­s at the state Capitol.

When Cuomo took office in 2011, he vowed to clean up Albany in the shadow of Eliot Spitzer’s resignatio­n in 2008 for soliciting prostitute­s. The Joint Commission on Public Ethics was establishe­d under Cuomo.

JCOPE has been criticized for being beholden to political leaders who appoint its members, including Cuomo.

“All credible allegation­s of sexual harassment must be taken seriously and given a thorough, transparen­t, and independen­t investigat­ion,” Sen. Liz Krueger, D-Manhattan, said in a statement. “Unfortunat­ely, the most obvious body to undertake such an investigat­ion – JCOPE – is compromise­d and ineffectiv­e.”

“New York State’s total failure to have an independen­t ethics enforcemen­t agency is a fundamenta­l obstacle to government accountabi­lity,” the watchdog group Reinvent Albany wrote Wednesday on Twitter. “There are no independen­t, effective, ethics police in #Albany and it shows.”

If not JCOPE, the state Legislatur­e has subpoena power and could launch its own probe into Boylan’s charges.

Five Republican senators wrote a letter Wednesday to state Attorney General Letitia James asking for a formal investigat­ion into the allegation­s against Cuomo.

There was no immediate comment from James’ office.

The office has a civil rights bureau that could look into it and a public integrity unit. For James’ to do a full investigat­ion, she would probably need a referral from Cuomo to investigat­e his office.

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