NY State Law Could Result in Andrew Cuomo Receiving More Taxpayer Money New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo during an announcement on violence in New York, on July 6, 2021. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
By Charlie McCarthy | Friday, 12 November 2021 09:02 AM
A New York state law might result in disgraced former Gov. Andrew Cuomo, D-N.Y., receiving taxpayer money that potentially could be used for political purposes.
A criminal complaint charging Cuomo with a misdemeanor sex offense was filed on Oct. 28 in a court in Albany, the state capital.
Albany County District Attorney David Soares, though, last week said the complaint was "potentially defective."
New York law stipulates that in many cases when criminal charges against public employees are dismissed or there's a subsequent acquittal, the state will reimburse the officials for their legal fees, Politico reported.
When campaign committees are used to pay for their legal defense, as Cuomo has done, the reimbursement goes to the campaign account. That means the money ultimately could be used for a future campaign or even advertisements attacking opponents.
"It's a crazy law," state Sen. Mike Gianaris, D-Queens, told Politico. "There are three layers of benefit that a politician would get that a normal person would not.
"It's one thing to have a campaign fund that would pay for your legal defense. It's another to have a right to be reimbursed if you are ultimately not convicted … and it’s a whole next level outrage to then have the taxpayers reimburse a political committee."
A number of investigations into Cuomo's actions already have cost taxpayers nearly $10 million, Politico reported.
Cuomo’s campaign committee bank account, which had $18.3 million as of July, was used to spend $285,000 in the prior six months on attorney Rita Glavin’s services — that was before Attorney General Letitia James released an investigatory report which stated that Cuomo sexually harassed 11 women during his time in office, with actions such as unwanted groping, kissing and sexual comments.
The reimbursement law, however, only applies to instances of alleged improprieties that occurred when an official "was acting within the scope of his public employment or duties."
"On first impression, it would seem that an allegation of forcible touching is not publicly related," Gianaris told Politico. "But you never know how these things are interpreted. And more importantly, Cuomo is still subject to ongoing investigations, some of which undoubtedly were related to his public duties, like the nursing home data investigation."
The first phase of approval for reimbursement would go through James' office.
"If I was the attorney general, I would be as restrictive as possible in interpreting this law, because the law itself is an outrage," Gianaris told Politico.
Reuters contributed to this report.