Andrew Cuomo, disgraced former governor of New York, has cost the Empire State’s taxpayers $9.5 million and will continue to reap the benefits of a law that makes taxpayers pay legal fees for elected officials.
Cuomo resigned in August over sexual harassment allegations, while various scandals have followed him, from allegedly using state staff to help him earn $5.1 million from a book deal while the state lost 56,000 people to Covid-19, to requiring nursing homes to take in Covid-positive patients and allegedly undercounting the number of people who died there.
Taxpayers have footed the bill for his legal fees, so far costing $9.5 million, and rising ever upward.
According to Politico, that figure breaks down and includes up to $5 million for lawyers who have represented Cuomo’s office, up to $3.5 million for lawyers hired by the state attorney general to investigate sexual harassment allegations against the Democrat, and at least $1 million in bills for lawyers hired by the legislature as part of an impeachment investigation.
It doesn’t include the legal fees of Cuomo’s private attorney, Rita Glavin, whose bills are being paid by his campaign committee.
While Cuomo has been charged criminally for allegedly forcibly groping a former staff member, those charges appear not to be sticking because a sheriff in upstate New York went rogue and filed charges without the knowledge of the district attorney, who was still investigating, and without a sworn statement from the alleged victim.
So, there’s another potential significant cost in play.
That’s because state law says it will reimburse public employees for their legal fees when they are acquitted of criminal charges, or those charges are dismissed.
Cuomo has used his campaign committees to pay for his legal defense, so the reimbursement goes to his campaign account.
“It’s a crazy law,” said state Sen. Mike Gianaris (D-Queens), who for years has sponsored a bill to repeal it.
Crazy indeed. Taxpayers shouldn’t be on the hook for legal fees, especially for someone like Cuomo, who as of July had more than $18 million in his campaign accounts.
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The #WasteOfTheDay is presented by the forensic auditors at OpenTheBooks.com.