New York’s Assembly Speaker is elaborating on questions about the alleged leak of a state ethics panel vote. Around the time, Joe Percoco, a former top aide was being investigated, Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo was allegedly told about a secret executive session vote by the Joint Commission on Public Ethics last January, setting off a quiet investigation by the state inspector general’s office — which was unable to substantiate the complaint.
According to The Times Union, it’s alleged someone leaked the information to Cuomo, who then discussed it with Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie. Heastie’s executive counsel called Julie Garcia, a JCOPE commissioner, asking about the vote after the Speaker and Cuomo spoke. Heastie, a Democrat, said at the capitol Tuesday that he never had a discussion with Cuomo about a JCOPE vote.
“I never instructed any staff person to reach out to a JCOPE member,” Heastie said Tuesday. “As I said before, it was a tense conversation going back and forth. The governor and I had a very strange relationship and he made a vague reference to JCOPE. And you know with this governor at some point it was like listening to Charlie Brown’s teacher.”
A Cuomo spokesman has said “the governor and speaker have talked about ethics over the years, but have not had any conversations that were inappropriate.” Heastie says he has asked the counsel to the Assembly’s Democratic majority to investigate the actions of his counsel, Howard Vargas.
Garcia has since resigned from JCOPE.