New York State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli is pushing back against claims from Governor Andrew Cuomo’s spokesperson that a recent referral to the state attorney general is politically-motivated piling on.
On Monday, DiNapoli sent a letter to Attorney General Tish James authorizing her to begin a probe of Governor Cuomo’s pandemic book deal and whether he used government staff to write the COVID-19 memoir. All three are Democrats.
Cuomo spokesman Rich Azzopardi says “the idea there was criminality involved here is patently absurd,” and questioned the motives of both DiNapoli and James, who he said have discussed running for governor themselves. DiNapoli addressed the situation on WAMC’s Capitol Connection with Alan Chartock Wednesday.
“We do the job that we’re elected to do here in the comptroller’s office, and we take that responsibility seriously,” he said, adding the referral “was done after much thought, and very consistent with what people expect us to do, to ask the important questions. I think I’m the least politically calculating of any of the players that are around these days and too old to change in that regard. I think my work stands on its own. It has since 2007 when I started as comptroller.”
“We’re a professional shop here, most of our employees are civil service,” he added. “I don’t know whether they’re Republicans or Democrats and when we make a decision on an audit or a policy or a referral, whatever we’re doing, a report, we’re calling it as we see it. That’s what people expect from the comptroller.”
As for the referral itself, “We felt that those allegations were serious enough to warrant further a review.”
“If there’s nothing amiss or inappropriate, then there’s nothing for anybody to be worried about,” he added.
DiNapoli also said he plans to run for re-election as comptroller in 2022.
“I haven’t seen a reason to change that plan thus far,” DiNapoli said.
Later in the interview, DiNapoli was asked whether he stands by an earlier statement calling on Gov. Cuomo to resign amid multiple sexual harassment allegations.
“Yes,” he said. “Like some others, my concern is for the state navigating through a challenging time, and that’s no presumption on innocence, guilt or on the substance of some of what’s been raised, but I think in terms of what the state needs in terms of undistracted leadership right now, I think that would be in the best interest of the state. Not going to say more about it than that.”
Cuomo denies touching anybody inappropriately, but apologized if he made anyone uncomfortable in conversations. The allegations are the subject of an impeachment inquiry in the Assembly and an investigation under the auspices of Attorney General James.