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Why AG needs governor's permission to investigate claims against the governor

Posted at 12:31 AM, Mar 02, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-02 00:31:20-05

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — A new day and politicians continue to question if Andrew Cuomo is fit to serve as governor of New York. This, even before a third allegation involving Cuomo was made public on Monday night.

“If you've sexually harassed young women in your employment, these are disqualifying realities. How could anyone look these people in the face after that? If these allegations, if these charges are proven, there's just no way he can govern,” said New York City’s mayor, Bill de Blasio.

Senate Minority Leader Robert Ortt echoed those concerns Monday, live on 7 Eyewitness News.

“I don't know that the governor, or anyone at this point, could focus on a pandemic, an economic and fiscal crisis, and on the needs of New Yorkers and at the same time do the job and focus on cooperating with two separate investigations,” said Ortt.

Attorney General Letitia James has received a letter from the governor's office calling for an investigation into the allegations against the governor.

Why does an investigation looking into the conduct of the governor have to be initiated by the governor himself? It's New York State law.

A portion of the duties of the Attorney General state:

“The attorney-general may, with the approval of the governor, and when directed by the governor, shall, inquire into matters concerning the public peace, public safety and public justice.”

Even if it means investigating the governor.

Is this something that could be changed, one day? That's tough to say, according to one political expert from the University at Buffalo.

“I think it would take quite a bit to make them change in terms of shifting to a model that places much more of an onus on open government norms,” said Jacob Neiheisel, a political science professor at the University at Buffalo.

Senator Patrick Gallivan believes the investigation will be conducted fairly.

“I'm confident that the attorney general, as she is shown, when she investigated the report on the nursing homes, can conduct the investigation in an independent manner and get to the truth,” said Gallivan.