Gov. Andrew Cuomo's vindictiveness and desire to protect his office and image were evident long before the current scandals involving New York's chief executive, The New Yorker reported Tuesday.
An investigation directed by the New York state attorney general recently determined that the Democrat governor sexually harassed multiple current and former state government employees. Other investigations are looking into whether the governor's office hid nursing home-related deaths during the COVID pandemic and the use of state resources as Cuomo wrote and promoted a pandemic memoir.
Danya Perry, a former federal prosecutor, witnessed Cuomo's bullying ways long before the governor's efforts to discredit reports that he had sexually harassed women, The New Yorker reported.
"Every single thing I’ve seen in the past couple of months was foreshadowed," Perry told The New Yorker’s Ronan Farrow.
Perry served as chief of investigations for the Moreland Commission, which Cuomo appointed in 2013 to probe corruption in state government, political campaigns, and elections in New York.
However, when the commission's inquiries began potentially to implicate the governor, Cuomo and his team used increasingly heavy-handed tactics, The New Yorker said.
"He did not want an investigation into his own dark-money contributions," Perry said.
Rep. Kathleen Rice, D-N.Y., who served as one of the commission's co-chairs, echoed Perry.
"[Cuomo] was pulling back subpoenas that were gonna go to friends and supporters of his — it was just really unbelievable," Rice said.
Both Perry and Rice told The New Yorker they had not spoken out until now because Cuomo or members of his inner circle had threatened their careers. They also had seen the governor's team successfully retaliate against others.
"I saw them destroy people," Perry said. "And I did really fear that it could be me."
Several people involved with the commission told The New Yorker that their probe was beginning to "unravel a web of campaign donations around Cuomo, and could have ensnared his allies and laid bare his loyalties to special interests."
"As we began to peel away the layers of the onion, he was behind everything," Rice said. "I mean, the corruption began and ended at his doorstep."
Before he shut down the Moreland Commission in April of 2014, Cuomo's attempts to thwart the commission's work might constitute a form of corruption, according to Rice, Perry, and others.
"He obstructed, he lied, he bullied, he threatened," Perry said. "It’s an M.O., and all of the different components of it — he tried them on for size with Moreland."
Cuomo even called the Obama White House "ranting and raving" after then-U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Preet Bharara had instructed commission members to preserve documents and had investigators from his office interview key witnesses.
Perry also said that when she met with Cuomo to discuss a possible job before being named to the commission, the governor unleashed a "full-on charm offensive." He even told her about his flagging sex life with his long-term girlfriend, which prompted Perry to change the subject.
In another meeting, Cuomo gave Perry a private tour of the capitol building and invited her to the Executive Mansion.
"He was definitely very, very personal and fairly intrusive," she said.
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