NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Charlotte Bennett, a former Andrew Cuomo staffer who came forward with allegations of sexual harassment against the governor, says the Assembly’s decision to drop the impeachment probe sends a message that “corruption, sexual harassment/assault and retaliation are acceptable.”
In a statement Sunday, she accused Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie of taking “the coward’s way out.”
— Charlotte Bennett (@_char_bennett_) August 15, 2021
“We took the enormous risk of speaking out about the abuse and harassment we experienced, and the AG’s independent investigation that followed corroborated our allegations and determined that the Governor broke state and federal law,” Bennett wrote. “Still, the speaker can’t muster enough courage to simply do his job. After spending millions of taxpayer dollars and issuing lofty statements, he’s failed to lift a finger to make clear that New York rejects Cuomo’s behavior.”
On Friday, another Cuomo accuser, Lindsey Boylan, called the speaker’s decision an “unjust cop out.”
The Assembly’s decision to call off its impeachment investigation is an unjust cop out. The public deserves to know the extent of the Governor’s misdeeds and possible crimes. His victims deserve justice and to know he will not be able harm others.
— Lindsey Boylan (@LindseyBoylan) August 13, 2021
According to a statement released by Heastie, Assembly lawyers determined “that the constitution does not authorize the Legislature to impeach and remove an elected official who is no longer in office.”
Heastie went on to say the Assembly Judiciary Committee did uncover “credible evidence” of the governor’s misconduct.
“This evidence concerned not only sexual harassment and misconduct but also the misuse of state resources in relation to the publication of the governor’s memoir as well as improper and misleading disclosure of nursing home data during the COVID-19 pandemic,” he said. “This evidence — we believe — could likely have resulted in articles of impeachment had he not resigned.”
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Cuomo announced his resignation last week after an independent investigation by the New York attorney general’s office found he sexually harassed 11 women and created a hostile work environment. He will continue to hold office until Aug. 24, when Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul will take over the role.
In an interview Friday — the same day as Heastie’s announcement — the governor told New York Magazine, “I’m not gonna drag the state through the mud, through a three-month, four-month impeachment, and then win, and have made the state Legislature and the state government look like a ship of fools.”
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Five New York counties, including Manhattan, Westchester and Nassau, are still conducting criminal investigations involving the governor.