Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s legal and ethical woes may have quieted down in recent weeks, but they haven’t gone away.
On July 17, 2021, Gov. Cuomo was reportedly questioned by attorneys hired by New York Attorney General Letitia James in connection with her sexual harassment investigation. In a clear effort to avoid talking with the media about the questioning, Gov. Cuomo kept an unusually low public profile in the ensuing days.
Meanwhile, Rich Azzopardi—the Governor’s often-combative communications director—is in hot water for comments he made about Attorney General James on Twitter. On July 11, Azzopardi asserted that the Attorney General “says she may run against” Gov. Cuomo. Azzopardi’s tweet called Transport Workers Union International President John Samuelsen “‘an extortionist who is trying to undo pension reform’” and added that Samuelsen is “‘a political supporter of Tish James and she says she may run against the governor, and [Samuelsen] wants more benefits in his contract. Everyone gets that.’” The comment was made in the context of dismissing negative remarks made by Samuelsen about the Governor.
While there has been a good deal of media speculation about the Attorney General’s political future, she has made no public statements indicating an interest in running for Governor. Thus, Azzopardi’s remarks appear premature at best. In response, Assembly Judiciary Committee Chair Charles Lavine—whose committee is conducting an impeachment investigation against the Governor—“stated that he was “‘extraordinarily concerned’ by Azzopardi’s ‘verbal attack’ on James” and adding that it “‘sends an obviously intimidating message to potential witnesses.’” Asm. Lavine also wrote the Governor to remind him that he had been instructed not to interfere with the Assembly’s impeachment investigation.