Andrew Cuomo won’t face criminal charges over allegations that he groped an aide, after the Albany District Attorney dropped a criminal complaint against the former governor.
Cuomo was set to be hauled into court on Friday to face the charges, but now that is off. DA David Soares said he found the allegations by a woman who said Cuomo touched her breast at the governor’s mansion credible, but did not believe he would be able to prove a crime beyond a reasonable doubt to a jury.
“While we found the complainant in this case cooperative and credible, after review of all the available evidence we have concluded that we cannot meet our burden at trial,” Soares said as he informed a judge he would decline to prosecute. He also asked for a misdemeanor complaint brought by the Albany county sheriff in October to be dismissed. There was trouble from the start with the case, including a lack of coordination between the sheriff and the DA.
The move makes it unlikely Cuomo will ultimately face any criminal liability for his alleged misconduct toward women: The Albany case represented the most serious charge against him, and prosecutors in other jurisdictions have recently closed investigations with no charges. The DA in Westchester said she found credible evidence of incidents alleged in the county where Cuomo lived — kisses on the cheek of an on-duty female state trooper and of a school employee without consent at a public event in White Plains — but could not prove a crime. The Nassau DA similarly said an incident where a state trooper said Cuomo touched her stomach and hip was “deeply troubling, but not criminal under New York law.”
Brittany Commisso, the woman who charged Cuomo groped her while she was on the job at the governor’s mansion, decried the decision, telling the New York Post: “I think it’s deterring women from coming forward.” But while there won’t be a criminal prosecution, a civil case is still likely: Soares said his decision does not close the door on “any possible civil liability,” and Commisso’s attorney confirmed she plans to pursue a civil action.
WHERE’S KATHY? In Albany, delivering her State of the State speech from the Assembly chamber at 1 p.m. It will be livestreamed.
WHERE’S ERIC? Appearing on CBS and making an announcement at Elmhurst Hospital.
“Eric Adams defends his pandemic response as N.Y.C. virus cases surge,” by The New York Times’ Emma G. Fitzsimmons and Zolan Kanno-Youngs: “In his first big test as mayor of New York City, Eric Adams is resisting pressure from municipal unions and elected officials to do more to stop the spread of the coronavirus as cases and hospitalizations are surging. Mr. Adams is holding firm that schools must stay open, and he is urging employers to have employees return to their offices, despite calls from some union leaders to temporarily return to virtual learning and remote work.”
“NYC Had Most Deaths Since 1970s, Fewest Births Ever In First Pandemic Year,” by WNYC’s Gwynne Hogan: “Fewer babies were born in New York City in 2020 than any year on record, while more residents died across the five boroughs in a single year than they had since the early 1970’s, according to recently released city data. The findings were issued as part of the New York City Health Department’s annual analysis of vital statistics from 2019. But the numbers offer an early preview of 2020’s birth and death statistics — and how Covid-19 reshaped those trends. Births dropped 9.4 percent from the prior year to 100,022, while deaths surged by 51 percent to 82,143, according to the health department.”
“New Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg won’t pursue fare beating, resisting arrest, other misdemeanors without accompanying felony charges,” by New York Daily News’ Rocco Parascandola, Molly Crane-Newman and Noah Goldberg: “Manhattan’s new district attorney told his staff Tuesday that the office will no longer prosecute fare beating, resisting arrest and other crimes he considers minor — a move toward fulfilling his campaign promise of criminal justice reform. Alvin Bragg, a former federal prosecutor who took office Jan. 1, also told assistant DAs not to seek bail except in the most egregious and violent cases. ‘I have dedicated my career to the inextricably linked goals of safety and fairness,’ Bragg wrote in the memo. Other crimes Bragg does not wish to pursue include misdemeanor cases of trespassing, obstructing governmental administration, and prostitution — though his instructions to his staff come with caveats.”
“Mayor Adams not ruling out vetoing noncitizen voting bill, angering NYC Council progressives,” by New York Daily News’ Chris Sommerfeldt: “Mayor Adams did not rule out vetoing a bill to extend voting rights to noncitizen New Yorkers on Tuesday, upsetting fellow Democrats in the City Council who say he’d flip-flop on a key campaign promise by torpedoing the measure. … Speaking at an unrelated press conference Tuesday afternoon, Adams said he remains concerned about an aspect of the bill stipulating that an eligible noncitizen only has to be a city resident for 30 days in order to gain the right to vote — and affirmed he has asked his legal team to weigh his options, including potentially vetoing the legislation.”
“2021 Saw Another Surge of Anti-Asian Hate Crimes in Subway,” by The City’s Jose Martinez: “The number of anti-Asian incidents reported in the subway jumped last year, NYPD data shows, accounting for more than one third of all bias crimes in the system. Through the end of November — the latest figures provided by the Hate Crime Task Force — 30 of the 84 reported subway bias incidents targeted Asians, a 233% increase from 2020, when only nine were tallied.”
“Hochul in the Middle: Governor Watches Left and Right While Charting 2022 Election Path,” by The City’s Clifford Michel: “While all the challengers are or were elected officials, virtually any move from Hochul during the legislative session that starts in January could draw fire from opponents, with every decision becoming an intra-party partisan litmus test, political analysts said. ‘The amount of pressure and scrutiny that the budget is going to be under and all these other social issues and other programs –– the governor’s race will be front and center,’ said Peter Kauffmann, a political strategist who worked for Cuomo’s 2010 and 2014 campaigns. ‘One will define the other. We’re going to see the issues of a governor’s race play out in real time with actual policy and actual pieces of legislation next year.’ And while Hochul, who is set to give her first ‘State of the State’ address on Wednesday, will be forced to take positions on pending issues, her opponents can pick and choose their spots — and also push her to the left or right.”
— Also on Hochul’s agenda: term limits. State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli, who is seeking a fourth term next year, is not backing her proposal to limit statewide officials to serving two consecutive terms in office, he told The Capitol Pressroom on Tuesday. “I don’t believe in an arbitrary limitation like that,” DiNapoli said.
“Prison drug testing undergoes sweeping reforms after IG finds rampant problems,” by Times Union’s Paul Nelson: “Thousands of prison inmates from across the state were for years unfairly punished — including some placed in solitary confinement — after the company overseeing the system used to test for drugs in urine samples flouted basic protocols leading to rampant false positive results. Prisoners were punished for positive drug tests without being given second tests to confirm the initial findings, a violation of state policy. A majority of samples that were later tested show a majority were false positives.”
“New York’s COVID hospitalizations keep surging, positivity rate at 23%,” by New York Daily News’ Tim Balk: “The Empire State reported another round of jarring coronavirus figures on Tuesday, as hospitals continue to swell with patients. The count of New Yorkers hospitalized with the virus reached 10,411, a figure 12% higher than last year’s winter peak, according to Gov. Hochul’s office. The hospitalization tally first eclipsed its 2021 high on Monday.”
“5 issues facing New York as lawmakers return to Albany,” by Spectrum News’ Nick Reisman: “State lawmakers and Gov. Kathy Hochul in the next six months will be deciding how to spend billions of dollars, impacting schools and health care along the way for more than 19 million New Yorkers. The legislative session is set to begin in Albany as Gov. Kathy Hochul delivers her first State of the State address, outlining an agenda for yet another year of the uncertainty brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic and as a statewide election looms. Redistricting will reshape representation at the state and federal levels. Economic struggles continue for many New Yorkers whose lives have been upended by the last two years; schools are struggling with returning to normal.”
“India Walton gains new role with Working Families Party,” by Buffalo News’ Robert J. McCarthy: “India B. Walton, the community activist who stunned incumbent Byron W. Brown in last year’s Democratic primary for mayor only to lose the general election, has been appointed to a post in the state Working Families Party. The left-leaning minor party announced Monday that Walton, a former nurse, will become senior adviser for special projects, charged with advancing issue priorities in the State Legislature, local issues in Buffalo and Rochester, and help recruit, train, elect and support political candidates at the local and state level.”
#UpstateAmerica: Fly Delta nonstop from Albany to LaGuardia starting today if you really can’t stomach a two-hour Amtrak anymore.
“Trump Family Members File Motion to Quash New York AG’s Subpoenas,” by New York Law Journal’s Jane Wester: “Attorneys representing former President Donald Trump and two of his children filed a motion to quash subpoenas from the New York Attorney General, arguing that the AG’s office is attempting to use its civil investigation of Trump business activities to aid the joint criminal investigation it is conducting with the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office. The motion was filed late Monday, hours after Trump, Ivanka Trump and Donald Trump Jr. were added as respondents to the civil suit, which already named Eric Trump, the Trump Organization and several associated businesses as respondents.”
— Gov. Kathy Hochul began releasing more detailed schedules of her days.
— Queens Democratic Assemblymember Ron Kim accused the Chinese-American Planning Council of wage theft and of coordinating with 1199SEIU to block access to courts for workers trying to win wages back.
— CNN will bring back Andy Cohen for next year’s New Year’s Eve show despite a drunken anti-de Blasio rant.
— Delaware North will continue as concessions and visitor services operator at Niagara Falls State Park for the next 13 years.
— Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz said the county, the state, and Bills owners are closer to a final deal on a new stadium lease, but would not use the word “imminent.”
— Retired city workers are pleading with Mayor Eric Adams to rescind his predecessor’s attempt to move them onto a new Medicare plan.
— Adams’ new jails boss is replacing the department’s head of investigations.
— The Bronx is the borough with the highest Covid-19 positivity rate: 27 percent.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY: WSJ’s Nick Timiraos … former Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-N.Y.) … Mercury’s Jake Dilemani … Daniel Sieberg is 5-0 … Nash Jenkins … Allison Biasotti of Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s office … Alexandra Sall … Tom Youngblood … David Bauder
MAKING MOVES — Former City Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer is now the chief growth and strategic partnerships officer at Girl Scouts NYC. … Former Staten Island Borough President Jimmy Oddo will be chief of staff to deputy mayor of operations Meera Joshi. … Midori Valdivia has been named chief operating officer at leadership training organization Coro New York. She was formerly chief of staff to the MTA chair … D’Seantè Parks is joining SKDK as senior vice president. She previously had an independent public affairs consulting practice. …
… Sara Gates is now a managing associate at Dentons, where she focuses on IP and tech litigation. She most recently was an associate at Cowan, DeBaets, Abrahams & Sheppard LLP. … Katherine Peters is now chief marketing officer at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP. She most recently was director of practice operations for strategy and corporate finance at McKinsey & Company.
MEDIAWATCH — “Bloomberg Media CEO Justin Smith Steps Down to Found News Startup,” by WSJ’s Benjamin Mullin: “Mr. Smith has recruited Ben Smith, who before his stint at the New York Times was editor in chief of BuzzFeed News, to be the company’s editor in chief.”
— Richard Kim will be the new editor in chief of The City. He comes from HuffPost, where he was executive editor.
“NY To Receive Fraction Of $1B Rent Aid Request, Court Told,” by Law 360’s Emma Whitford: “New York will receive a small portion of the nearly $1 billion in additional funding it has sought from the U.S. Treasury Department to cover coronavirus rent arrears, intended to fulfill thousands of pending requests to aid struggling tenants and landlords. The federal government has allocated about $27.2 million to New York in supplemental funding, according to an email filed Monday in state court. This amounts to about 3% of the funding requested in November as available funds dwindled, prompting state officials to stop considering new applications across most of the state.”
“Hochul Signals Aim to Let Eviction Moratorium Expire, Albany Sources Say,” by The City’s Rachel Holliday Smith and Josefa Velasquez: “Gov. Kathy Hochul is considering letting a pandemic-spurred hold on evictions lapse after it expires on Jan. 15, sources in the state legislature told THE CITY. A pause on evictions has been in place by executive order since the early days of the COVID-19 outbreak, then becoming law in June 2020. Hochul extended the stay on evictions during her first days as governor in early September. In recent weeks, she and her advisors have been pushing state lawmakers to let the law lapse next week — making the argument that businesses and schools have reopened and people are returning to work, four people familiar with the discussions told THE CITY.”