James to pick firm to independently investigate Cuomo harassment allegations

Cuomo Under Fire

(WSYR) — More twists and turns can be expected in Albany Monday as the legislature returns. The ball is now in the New York Attorney General’s court. Letitia James will select a lawyer to conduct an independent investigation of the sexual harassment allegations against Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Initially, Saturday night, the Cuomo administration announced former Federal Judge Barbara Jones would lead a review of the harassment allegations against the governor. After backlash about the ethics of choosing his own independent reviewer, Cuomo appears to have relented and allowed the attorney general to select an independent investigator. This referral is important because it carries subpoena power.

Allegations were published in a New York Times story Saturday night stating the governor made comments that former Cuomo aide Charlotte Bennett interpreted as clear overtures to a sexual relationship. She told the Times that Cuomo asked whether she had ever had sex with older men.

This is the second harassment claim against Gov. Cuomo made in the last week.

In a statement Sunday night, Cuomo said he never intended to offend anyone or cause harm. He acknowledged some of his actions have been misinterpreted as unwanted flirtation and he apologized.

Now, Attorney General James is expected to appoint that law firm to conduct this investigation.

“It really comes down to the Attorney General to find someone that she trusts. Someone, I’m sure, with a sterling reputation. I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s someone who’s a former prosecutor either in her office or from the Department of Justice,” said Jack O’Donnell, president of O’Donnell and Associates. O’Donnell runs a government relations firm and has done consulting work for the governor before.

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