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OPINION: It’s a big mistake not to continue with Cuomo’s impeachment

By Will Barclay

Date:

The [Aug. 13] decision to drop the impeachment investigation of Gov. Andrew Cuomo is a massive disservice to the goals of transparency and accountability.

Gov. Cuomo offered his resignation on Aug. 10, amid multiple scandals and with several ongoing investigations looking into misconduct in his office. The announcement came exactly one week after Attorney General Letitia James released the findings of her investigation into sexual-harassment claims against the governor, and one day after the Assembly Judiciary Committee set an expedited timetable to conclude its impeachment investigation.

For months, the governor insisted that he had done nothing wrong and had no intention of leaving office voluntarily. But with pressure mounting and support crumbling, he recalibrated and finally realized the obvious — there was no path forward. The governor did the right thing by stepping aside.

[Following that], the Assembly Judiciary Committee tasked with the impeachment investigation [should have done] the right thing by completing its work.

The Assembly impeachment investigation had been ongoing for five months, collecting evidence across several fronts. In addition to the now-confirmed sexual-harassment claims, Gov. Cuomo is facing questions regarding his administration’s failed nursing-home policy and subsequent cover-up, the improper use of state resources related to his $5.1 million book deal, preferential treatment for friends and family to get COVID tests, and questions surrounding the structural integrity of the new Mario M. Cuomo Bridge.

 A job resignation does not equate to accountability. The hours of work, the mountain of evidence, and the information discovered by the impeachment inquiry should not simply be swept under the rug.

Moving forward with the impeachment would have brought a necessary conclusion to an important endeavor and ensured Andrew Cuomo would never be permitted to hold statewide office. Instead, mountains of evidence and months of work will now be hidden from the public by this disappointing, tone-deaf decision.

The New York Legislature had a chance to deliver accountability and justice to the victims of Andrew Cuomo’s failed administration. This announcement is a slap in the face to the people this body was elected to represent.        

William (Will) A. Barclay, Republican, is the New York Assembly minority leader and represents the 120th New York Assembly District, which encompasses most of Oswego County, including the cities of Oswego and Fulton, as well as the town of Lysander in Onondaga County and town of Ellisburg in Jefferson County. Contact Barclay at barclaw@assembly.state.ny.us. 

Editor’s note: This article combines an opinion column Barclay submitted on Aug. 13 — before Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie announced the same day that the Assembly will suspend its impeachment investigation of Gov. Andrew Cuomo after his resignation takes effect on Aug. 25 — with a statement he issued following Heastie’s announcement. Heastie then subsequently announced that the Assembly planned to still release its final report on the Cuomo investigation.

 

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