New York’s attorney-general is moving forward with an investigation into sexual harassment allegations against Governor Andrew Cuomo after he authorised her to take charge of the probe.
The referral allows Attorney-General Letitia James to deputise an outside law firm to conduct the inquiry with full subpoena power.
When the investigation is finished, the findings will be disclosed in a public report, it says.
“This is not a responsibility we take lightly as allegations of sexual harassment should always be taken seriously,” Ms James said, in a statement announcing she received the authorisation.
Two women who’ve worked for Mr Cuomo have come forward to accuse him of sexual harassment.
The governor acknowledged for the first time on Sunday (local time) that some of his behaviour with women “may have been insensitive or too personal” and said he would co-operate with the investigation.
Mr Cuomo addressed the allegations in a statement and has not been seen in public since last Wednesday.
He maintained he had never inappropriately touched or propositioned anyone but he said he had teased people about their personal lives in an attempt to be “playful”.
“I now understand that my interactions may have been insensitive or too personal and that some of my comments, given my position, made others feel in ways I never intended,” he said.
“I acknowledge some of the things I have said have been misinterpreted as an unwanted flirtation. To the extent anyone felt that way, I am truly sorry about that.”
The letter authorising Ms James’ investigation said all state employees had been directed to co-operate fully with the review.
Cuomo senior adviser Beth Garvey penned the letter and will organise interviews with witness and requests for documents from Mr Cuomo’s office.
The referral came after a weekend of wrangling over who should investigate his workplace behaviour.
First, Mr Cuomo’s office said it would ask a former federal judge to conduct the probe. Then, it suggested Ms James and the state’s top judge work together to appoint outside counsel.
Finally, on Sunday, Mr Cuomo acquiesced to Ms James’ demands to take control.