New York governor Andrew Cuomo has asked the state’s attorney general and chief appeals court judge to jointly appoint an independent lawyer to investigate claims that he sexually harassed at least two women who worked for him.
The move came after legislative leaders assailed Mr Cuomo’s plan to appoint a retired federal judge to conduct the probe.
“The governor’s office wants a review of the sexual harassment claims made against the governor to be done in a manner beyond reproach,” Beth Garvey, special counsel to the governor, said.
“We had selected former federal judge Barbara Jones, with a stellar record for qualifications and integrity, but we want to avoid even the perception of a lack of independence or inference of politics.”
Garvey said the Democratic governor’s administration has asked attorney general Letitia James and Janet DiFiore, chief judge of the court of appeals, “to jointly select an independent and qualified lawyer in private practice without political affiliation to conduct a thorough review of the matter and issue a public report”.
Ms Garvey said the report “will be solely controlled by that independent lawyer personally selected by the attorney general and chief judge”.
Charlotte Bennett, an aide in the governor’s administration until November, told The New York Times on Saturday that Mr Cuomo asked her inappropriate questions about her sex life, including whether she ever had sex with older men.
Another former aide, Lindsey Boylan, a former deputy secretary for economic development and special adviser to the governor, recently accused Mr Cuomo of subjecting her to an unwanted kiss and inappropriate comments.
Mr Cuomo said in a statement Saturday he had intended to be a mentor for Ms Bennett, who is 25. He has denied Ms Boylan’s allegations.