Albany Dems Introduces Funding Bill for Potential Cuomo Impeachment
Albany’s Main Democrats – State Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie – have introduced a bill that would allow the Legislature to tap into the state coffers to pay for his sprawling investigation into the impeachment of Governor Andrew Cuomo.
The bill would allow the legislature to dip into a $ 156 million fund used to pay for lawsuits against the state, which would save the Assembly from footing the bill for the costs accrued by the ongoing investigation.
If the chamber drafts articles of impeachment against the governor, thereby triggering a trial in the state Senate, the legislation will cover the costs of the upper chamber as well.
“We want to make sure that the legislature has the appropriate resources to conduct an investigation and a trial. This already existing fund is the appropriate means to guarantee this fact, “Mike Murphy, spokesperson for the Democrats in the state Senate, told The Post on Sunday.
The bill would be retroactive to April 1 because funding for the investigation was not allocated in the $ 212 billion state budget, the state’s main budget document.
The legislation – introduced late Saturday night – also means a priority for the two Democratic leaders within a week of the legislative session, which is expected to end on June 10.
But it would take Cuomo’s signature to become law – a spokesperson did not return a request for comment by The Post when asked if the governor would approve the bill.
The House has already set aside $ 250,000 under a contract with Davis Polk & Wardwell – the high-powered New York law firm with four attorneys paid $ 600 an hour each to help the committee judicial body in the investigation.
This amount has been criticized by critics for being too small to fund the broad investigation into multiple allegations of sexual harassment against the governor, his administration’s handling of COVID-19 in nursing homes and the alleged abuse of resources of the state to write his $ 5.1 million memoir of the era of the pandemic.
Although Judicial Committee Chairman Charles Lavine (D-Long Island) said it was an “initial cap” that could be adjusted “as needed,” it has angered lawmakers like the president. of the ethics committee, Senator Alessandra Biaggi, who suggested the miserly amount is intended to “save more time for the governor”.
So far, three meetings have been held by the committee to discuss the survey since its initial launch in mid-March.
Sources also said The Post Heastie was not happy with the idea that the Assembly would be forced to pay the full bill and was looking for other means of funding.
“The Assembly was never intended to pay for this,” said MP Tom Abinanti (D-Tarrytown), who also sits on the Judiciary Committee.
“It’s a good way to go. It is an obligation for the state, and not for the Assembly or the Senate, to pay for it. We have never allocated any money in our operating budget to pay for it. It is an unforeseen expense. ”
Meanwhile, taxpayers are already footing the bill for a separate $ 2.5 million legal defense by Cuomo and his administration against a federal investigation into his retirement home policy and book contract.
Cuomo is also under investigation by Democratic State Attorney General Letitia James for allegations of sexual harassment and misconduct by former and current aides as well as other women.