FOIL request policy for former Gov. Cuomo uncovered

Cuomo Under Fire

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — An independent Albany think-tank has uncovered a former Cuomo administration policy that barred state agencies from releasing sensitive information to the public until after the governor’s office had approved it.

The Empire Center for Public Policy obtained the Cuomo policy from a 2018 Department of State document. The center said the policy violated the Freedom of Information Law and has “slowed or blocked public information, including data about the coronavirus.”

The policy includes sending sensitive requests for public information to the governor’s office first for review within four weeks when the legislature’s goal was five days.

For example, NEWS10 ABC submitted a request for details on former Gov. Andrew Cuomo taking a sexual harassment training course on March 1. The document was released to NEWS10 on July 28. The coronavirus pandemic was cited as the cause for the delay at the time.

The legislature has been heavily focused on state ethics reform in the past few months.

In her first address to New Yorkers after having been sworn into office, Gov. Kathy Hochul said, “We’ll focus on open, ethical governing that New Yorkers will trust.”

Hochul has asked state entities to look at compliance with state transparency laws and come up with a public report. She also said, “I’ve instructed my counsel to come up with an expedited process to fulfil all FOIL requests as fast as possible.”

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