Steven M. Cohen, a former secretary to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, turned into nominated through the governor to serve on the commission for the Port Authority of manhattan and New Jersey.
ALBANY — Steven M. Cohen, a longtime confidant and guide to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, talked about he was working as an attorney for the governor’s administration all the way through the time when there have been inside discussions about leaking the personnel file of former staffer Lindsey Boylan, who accused the governor of sexual harassment in December.
Cohen prevented detailing the character and scope of any criminal guidance he offered Cuomo throughout that time, but he informed the state Senate Finance Committee this week that he become serving as an attorney for the governor on a voluntary foundation.
“i think that if I received into too plenty element here, I’d likely be waiving an attorney-customer privilege,” Cohen told the committee that was questioning him about his nomination by Cuomo to function a board member to the Port Authority of ny and New Jersey. The committee later accredited Cohen’s nomination for the influential Port Authority place.
Cohen became puzzled via Republican rating Member Sen. Thomas O’Mara, who has railed in opposition t Cuomo about his expansive government powers granted right through the coronavirus pandemic and the style the Senate has moved forward with the governor’s nominations to famous boards.
The closing-minute nominations with the aid of Cuomo have turn into too average and do not allow ample time to competently display candidates for a lot of essential roles, according to some lawmakers.
“Nominations made by means of the governor to a considerable number of positions can have a tremendous have an impact on on the lives of frequent New Yorkers but they’re historically rushed through, often in the dead of night, with little time and guidance for contributors of the Senate to assessment and safely vet the nominees,” Senate Minority chief Rob Ortt noted in a press release.
Republicans referred to as for reforms to the nomination process on Tuesday, with two days left to the session. Traditionally, party management pushes through its nominations on the conclusion of the legislative session, whereas lawmakers are busy being lobbied on what bills they may still act on in the last stretch.
Cohen turned into one example of someone that Republicans had hoped to have greater time to query in a public discussion board.
Complicating Cohen’s nomination, which become accepted by way of the committee with little Democratic pushback, changed into his relationship to the varied scandals which have engulfed the governor.
Cohen authored a prolonged observation on behalf of the governor in February defending the administration’s nursing home policies, together with the withholding records from the public.
“I in reality had nothing to do related to the nursing home issues aside from basically being brought in to take a look and make an announcement and clarify the administration’s position,” Cohen told legislators during his affirmation listening to on Monday. “I shouldn’t have first-hand competencies with recognize to what got here before me and that i depart it to others in the administration these considerations.”
When O’Mara shifted gears from nursing homes to Boylan’s personnel file, Cohen automatically offered less suggestions, citing attorney-customer privilege. Information stories have placed Cohen in the room all over the determination manner by the executive management to push out Boylan’s personnel checklist within the wake of her preliminary allegations on the governor.
“Steve Cohen changed into within the room the place Cuomo individuals determined to leak a supposed personnel file on me once I spoke about abuse from our boss,” Boylan tweeted earlier this week about the Port Authority nomination. “here is all so immense and that i understand heritage will treat it this manner. I’ll help make it so.”
In a press release to the times Union on Tuesday, she said: “I wouldn’t be stunned if Steve were part of the geared up smear campaign towards me as a result of for thus lengthy he’s finished the governor’s dirty work.”
The governor’s workplace didn’t reply to a request for remark.
Cohen stated he gives felony consultation for the administration “now and again.” It become now not automatically clear from Cohen’s testimony whether he has been compensated for any legal work or consulting that he has supplied to the governor.
O’Mara requested Cohen even if he became determining to avoid speaking concerning the Boylan situation to steer clear of self-incrimination. Cohen answered that he become simply keeping off speaking out of flip before the governor’s administration. O’Mara pressed Cohen on no matter if he changed into an lawyer for Cuomo all the way through the Boylan personnel file discussions six months in the past.
“i used to be operating as an attorney,” Cohen observed, “however i will be able to’t really represent what i used to be or wasn’t advising on.”