Capitol Notes

Senate Dems vary in responses to Cuomo’s alleged misconduct

Senate Democrats may agree on the need for an independent investigation into the multiple allegations of sexual misconduct by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, but there is a wide schism of opinions among the 43-member majority about what should happen in the interim.

A handful of senators, including Jessica Ramos, Alessandra Biaggi, Gustavo Rivera and Jabari Brispot, say unequivocally that Cuomo needs to go now, while the situation is more complicated for other members.

Sen. Rachel May, a Syracuse-area Democrat, said Tuesday that the governor’s treatment of employees, legislators and casual acquaintances “overstepped a bright line” and his attempts to explain his behavior are inadequate.

“My preference is to let the independent investigation proceed, and proceed quickly, but it is getting harder and harder to see a way forward to doing our jobs with this Governor in place,” May said.

Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins has called for Attorney General Letitia James to investigate the governor’s alleged conduct, but has stopped short of calling on him to resign or suggest the legislature is ready to impeach him.

When asked Tuesday about what she expected to learn from an investigation into the governor that she didn’t already know, Sen. Michelle Hinchey, a Hudson Valley Democrat, replied that she believed in the attorney general’s ability to get to the bottom of Cuomo’s behavior in a timely manner.

Sen. John Mannion, a Syracuse-area Democrat, also emphasized the importance of moving forward with an investigation, highlighting the importance of “due process.”

The wait-and-see approach was recommended by New York State Democratic Party Chair Jay Jacobs, who said it would be “premature and unfair” to prematurely judge the governor’s conduct before the attorney general’s investigation is completed.

“I urge all Democrats to unite in our determination to allow the Attorney General’s investigation to do the work we have called for, and then to do what is right, whatever the outcome.  In the meantime, our state has a budget to complete, a pandemic to fight and the people’s work must continue,” Jacobs said in a statement.

As for Cuomo’s ability to be engaged in the budget process with all of this hanging over the Capitol, Hinchey said the Senate Democrats are ready to work and that the governor would have to be focused too because of the importance of the work.




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