New York’s attorney general has appointed an employment discrimination specialist and a former federal prosecutor to lead an independent investigation into claims that the state’s governor sexually harassed several former female aides.
Anne L Clark is an employment partner at Vladeck, Raskin & Clark, where she represents clients in discrimination cases involving race, gender, harassment, pregnancy, age, disability, sexual orientation, and identity, across the private sector, education, and government.
Clark is joined in the investigation by Joon H Kim, a white-collar crime and investigations specialist at Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton and the former acting US attorney for the Southern District of New York.
As reported by the Associated Press, Clark previously represented a woman in a sexual harassment claim against former New Jersey state Assembly Speaker Garabed Haytaian, while Kim was involved in the investigation of Joseph Percoco, a longtime aide to the governor, on corruption charges.
Assisted by Cleary Gottlieb partners Jennifer Kennedy Park and Abena Mainoo, and Vladeck partner Yannick Grant, Clark and Kim will lead the investigation into New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s (pictured) conduct in office and his administration’s handling of the allegations made against him.
To date, five former staffers have accused Governor Cuomo of sexual misconduct and inappropriate comments in the workplace. These include kissing one without consent and grabbing another’s cheeks at a wedding while asking to kiss her.
We are committed to an independent and thorough investigation of the facts
Cuomo has also been accused of bullying following “verbal abuse” directed at Democratic New York Assemblyman Ron Kim. Two male aides have also come forward with allegations the governor referred to them as “pussies” and that they had “no balls”.
The governor has denied the allegations, saying he has “never touched anyone inappropriately”, but added that he was “truly sorry” if “insensitive” remarks he made to employees were “misinterpreted”.
Cuomo’s administration had previously proposed that Attorney General Letitia James and New York’s chief judge, Janet Marie DiFiore, jointly select “an independent and qualified lawyer in private practice without political affiliation” to conduct a “thorough review” of claims against the governor.
However, James rejected this proposal, stating: “While I have deep respect for Chief Judge DiFiore, I am the duly elected attorney general and it is my responsibility to carry out this task, per executive law. The governor must provide this referral so an independent investigation with subpoena power can be conducted.”
In a statement announcing her appointments to the investigation, James said: “We are committed to an independent and thorough investigation of the facts. Joon H Kim and Anne L Clark are independent, legal experts who have decades of experience conducting investigations and fighting to uphold the rule of law.
“There is no question that they both have the knowledge and background necessary to lead this investigation and provide New Yorkers with the answers they deserve.”
Clark and Kim will report to the attorney general every week throughout the investigation. Upon the conclusion of its investigation, the team will produce a written report of its findings, which will be made available to the general public.