Governor Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday said he has not had “an inappropriate conversation” with Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie about votes for an investigation at the Joint Commission on Public Ethics.
The vote came as the ethics body was considering whether to move forward with a probe of Joe Percoco, a former close aide to the governor who was found guilty in a wide-ranging bribery and bid-rigging scheme.
Wednesday, a report that first surfaced in the Times Union, says Cuomo may have talked with Heastie after the Joint Commission on Public Ethics considered an investigation of his former aide. That report says Cuomo was upset with how Heastie's appointees voted — a claim the governor denies.
“The speaker and I were asked this question,” Cuomo said Tuesday. “We’ve said we’ve never had an inappropriate conversation about JCOPE.”
Meanwhile, Republican lawmakers and some Democrats in the legislature remain concerned with any implication that undue interference on the commission's work existed.
The allegation led to an investigation; Inspector General Letizia Tagliafierro recused herself. Cuomo would not say if he had been interviewed by the inspector general as part of that inquiry, but his office previously said he had not been.
But he also said commissioners on the panel are under a legal requirement to not disclosure and third-party information is considered differently.
“Remember legally the only legal obligation is on the commissioners not to disclose,” Cuomo said. “That’s why they talk to the commissioners because the commissioners are the only ones who have a legal obligation. If a commissioner called you or someone else, and told you something, you could tell whoever you want. But the IG talked to the people who had the legal obligation.”