Local state legislators angry impeachment investigation of governor ended by Assembly speaker

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 13 August 2021 at 5:47 pm

Carl Heastie, speaker of the State Assembly, announced today that the Assembly will be suspending its impeachment investigation of Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

“There are two reasons for this decision,” Heastie said. “First, the purpose of the Assembly Judiciary Committee’s impeachment investigation was to determine whether Governor Cuomo should remain in office. The governor’s resignation answers that directive. Second, we have been advised by Chair Lavine – with the assistance of counsel – of the belief that the constitution does not authorize the legislature to impeach and remove an elected official who is no longer in office.”

Local state legislators responded with anger that the impeachment investigation was dropped by Heastie. Cuomo announced on Tuesday he will be resigned on Aug. 24 after an attorney general’s investigation revealed he sexually harassed 11 women, including employees in his office.

Heastie said an Assembly committee uncovered evidence of Cuomo’s sexually harassment and misconduct, as well as “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.”

Heastie said the evidence “could likely have resulted in articles of impeachment had he not resigned.”

He said the attorney general is investigating issues concerning the governor’s memoir. The Eastern District of the United States attorney has been investigating the administration’s actions concerning nursing home data. And, Heastie said, there are active investigations over Cuomo’s alleged sexual harassment by local law enforcement authorities in five jurisdictions – Manhattan, Albany, Westchester, Nassau and Oswego.

“This has been a tragic chapter in our state’s history,” Heastie said. “The people of this great state expect and deserve a government they can count on to always have their best interests in mind. Our government should always operate in a transparent, safe and honest manner. These principles have and always will be the Assembly Majority’s commitment to all New Yorkers.”

Haestie’s statement drew strong rebuttals from the local state legislators.

“I am outraged by the Speaker’s decision to shut down the impeachment investigation of the Governor!” Assemblyman Mike Norris, R-Lockport, said in a statement. “The public should also be outraged! The public deserves accountability and transparency and has a right to know the facts uncovered during the Judiciary Committee’s investigation. I call upon the Committee to continue its work and release its findings to the public.”

Assemblyman Steve Hawley, R-Batavia, issued this statement: “Impartial justice is a founding principle of our constitutional republic, and nobody should be above the law. Our public officials should be held to the highest standards possible, and by ending this impeachment investigation the speaker has denied justice to the people of this state and allowed potentially illegal acts to be swept under the rug.”

State Senate Republican Leader Rob Ortt of North Tonawanda issued this statement: “The decision from Assembly Democrats to suspend the impeachment investigation reeks of a shady deal to protect Andrew Cuomo.

“At any point in the last six months, Democrats could have impeached our now disgraced Governor – but that would’ve required courage. Instead, they stalled and bought Andrew Cuomo all the time in the world, while they wasted millions of taxpayer dollars on their sham investigation.

“Resignation is not accountability. The Democrats not only failed in their constitutional responsibilities – they failed the Governor’s countless victims in nursing homes, brave women who came forward to tell their stories, and those who believe in honest and transparent government.”

Ortt issued another statement this afternoon urging the Assembly Judiciary Committee to publish the Judiciary Committee’s findings of the investigation into Cuomo.