Disgraced former New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is finally — thankfully — no longer in power, but he's still set to be a fiscal thorn in the side of New York taxpayers as bills for the legal trouble he brought come due.
As it turns out, the state had already approved covering as much as $9.5 million in payments to lawyers involved in his sexual harassment and nursing home scandals. According to contracts reviewed by AP, up to $5 million is for legal representation on behalf of Cuomo's office while $3.5 million is for lawyers hired by the Attorney General to investigate sexual harassment claims with another $1 million for lawyers hired to assist with the state assembly's impeachment investigation.
The City explains part of the equation:
All told, between lawyers representing Cuomo’s office and outside counsel brought in to investigate him, taxpayers face a potential total bill of $8.78 million based on contracts already signed by Cuomo, Attorney General Letitia James’ office and the state Assembly.
As of this week, one of two prominent Manhattan law firms and a public relations company Cuomo hired several months back had submitted bills to the executive chamber. Before he left office Cuomo signed off on about $785,000 in payments for one of the law firms and the p.r. concern, records show.
That leaves another $4.2 million in potential bills under the contracts inked by Cuomo. Hochul — who in her first day in office pledged a new transparency for state government — will now decide what the firms will be paid going forward.
Cuomo's successor, former Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul, now has the power to say whether the state will continue paying legal bills related to the former governor and those in his administration. A spokesperson for Hochul said the new governor "will be reviewing all legal contracts and making appropriate decisions on the need for legal representation and whether to continue any contracts."
“Cuomo’s successor, @GovKathyHochul can decide whether the state will continue to pay lawyers to defend the former governor and his administration going forward.”— Janice Dean (@JaniceDean) August 31, 2021
We’ll be watching you, Kathy Hochul.
Even though Cuomo is no longer in power, his legal troubles are far from over. Numerous district attorneys and other prosecutors are looking into the accusations that were confirmed in the New York Attorney General's report that — along with looming impeachment — spurred Cuomo's resignation. And that doesn't even include the potential of civil suits brought by his accusers.
According to AP:
Cuomo, a Democrat, and his administration face the possibility of civil lawsuits from women who have accused him of sexual harassment. The Albany sheriff is investigating a groping allegation. The state attorney general is looking into Cuomo’s use of state employees to help with a book he wrote. Federal prosecutors are investigating his administration’s handling of nursing home death data. He’s also facing a state ethics commission inquiry.
Some noted that Cuomo still has roughly $18 million in his campaign account which would more than cover the amount potentially passed on to taxpayers.
Cuomo has 18M in his political committee, why should taxpayers pick up the tab for his legal problems https://t.co/GdJRxhnzLU— Sal Albanese (@SalAlbaneseNYC) August 26, 2021
The leader of the state assembly's Republican conference suggested taxpayers could have been spared from paying the legal fees of their disgraced ex-governor if the legislature had followed through with impeachment while other state officials said taxpayers should never have had to foot Cuomo's bill in the first place.
Taxpayers are still being punished and forced to foot the multi-million dollar bill for the legal defense of the former governor.— Will Barclay (@WillABarclay) August 31, 2021
Had the Legislature acted upon our initial calls for impeachment this costly embarrassing mess could have been avoided https://t.co/hiBkhsqqa6
Taxpayers should not have been paying for Cuomo’s legal fees in the first place. Gov Hochul must terminate all legal spending to defend Cuomo’s abuse of power. https://t.co/enRGSBgrLo— Ron T. Kim (@rontkim) August 31, 2021
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