New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and his office have so far retained four law firms in the face of sexual harassment and misconduct allegations, as well as state and federal investigations — what remains unclear is who is footing the bill for the legal services.
A spokesman for State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli’s office told the Albany Times Union that Cuomo’s office has not submitted any of the attorney contracts to the comptroller’s office for approval, which is required for contracts over $50,000.
“It is incumbent upon the agency to timely submit the contact for approval, and a vendor would be working at risk without the required approval from our office,” spokesperson Matthew Ryan said.
According to the Times Union, partners at the law firms Arnold & Porter and Walden Macht & Haran are representing Cuomo’s Executive Chamber in the face of multiple sexual harassment allegations against the governor. The newspaper also reported that attorney Rita Glavin is representing Cuomo in his personal capacity regarding allegations that he groped a female staff member, and that the firm Morvillo Abramowitz is representing Cuomo’s office in the face of a federal probe.
Fox News reached out to each firm and Cuomo’s office asking who is paying for the legal fees, but none had responded by the time of this publication.
Cuomo senior adviser Rich Azzopardi told the Times Union that Cuomo’s office is “in the process of finalizing these contracts and related documents for review and approval by the comptroller’s office,” and that there is nothing unusual about going through this process after representation has already begun.
“We are abiding by all applicable rules and standards and in matters like this it is not uncommon for legal representation to begin while the contracts are simultaneously being drafted for submission,” he said. “Doing it the other way could potentially leave the Chamber and its employees without representation.”
The governor has been fending off accusations from multiple women including current and former staff members that he has sexually harassed or inappropriately touched them. At the same time, his office is being investigated for its handling of nursing home deaths during the coronavirus pandemic due to their failure to accurately report the number of casualties. This followed a directive that required nursing homes to admit residents who had been released from hospitals after being treated for COVID-19.
Cuomo has apologized for making comments that made people uncomfortable, but insisted that he never meant to offend. He has otherwise denied all wrongdoing.
There would be precedent for Cuomo to use his campaign funds to cover his attorneys’ fees. In 2018, while facing an investigation that he abused women, former New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman used nearly $340,000 from his reelection committee to pay law firm Clayman & Rosenberg.
“By and large, if you are an elected official, you can use your campaign contributions as a Get Out of Jail Free card,” New York Public Interest Research Group executive director Blair Horner told the Associated Press at the time.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.