Gov. Andrew Cuomo used campaign cash to pay nearly $285,000 in bills from the lawyer defending him against sexual harassment allegations, according to documents filed Friday — despite publicly claiming he wasn’t doing so last month.
Although Cuomo told reporters on June 2 that he wasn’t spending political donations on his legal fees “at this time,” his campaign paid $173,098 to former US Justice Department official Rita Glavin that very same day, according to an official filing with the state Board of Elections.
“Andrew Cuomo for New York” had earlier paid Glavin’s firm, Glavin PLLC, $111,774 on May 3, according to the filing, which says the spending was for “professional services.”
New York law allows politicians to spend campaign funds on legal fees, and both former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan) and former Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos (R-Long Island) did so before they were convicted in unrelated corruption schemes.
Cuomo hired Glavin as the sexual harassment scandal against him mounted, and she spoke in defense of him when the New York Times reported on March 19 that a female aide had accused him of ogling her, commenting on her looks and making suggestive remarks to her and a female colleague.
During the June 2 news conference that followed the revelation Cuomo sold his coronavirus memoir for $5.1 million, the three-term Democrat defended his decision to have taxpayers pay his legal bills in connection with separate probes into his handling of nursing homes amid the pandemic.
“The state — the way it works is the Executive Chamber has retained the counsel and that is a state expense,” he said during a news conference at Manhattan’s Javits Center.
“That has been [the case] in every investigation. So that’s where we are now.”
Asked if he was paying any other lawyers out of his own pocket or with campaign cash, Cuomo responded, “Not at this time.”
Former Cuomo aide Lindsey Boylan, whose allegations against him led a series of other women to come forward with their own accusations against the governor, on Friday re-tweeted a reporter’s account of the Q&A.
Boylan added sarcastically: “*pretends to be shocked*.”
Cuomo’s Friday disclosure came hours after The Post reported that taxpayers have shelled out nearly $800,000 to the law firm of Morvillo Abramowitz Grand Iason & Anello to defend Cuomo’s handling of nursing homes during the COVID-19 crisis.
Partner Elkan Abramowitz, a former top Manhattan federal prosecutor, and other lawyers at the firm are defending Cuomo and his top aides against probes involving the state’s nursing home deaths from COVID-19 and reports that state employees were pressured to work on Cuomo’s memoir, “American Crisis: Leadership Lessons from the COVID-19 Pandemic.”
Neither a Cuomo spokesman nor Glavin immediately responded to requests for comment.
The governor has repeatedly denied any misconduct.