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Cuomo counsel won't release public records

Jul 20, 2021 1:03 pm

Chris Bragg reports in the Times Union that Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office is declining to release public records detailing overtime payments to junior staff members. The records are routinely available to anyone who asks, but Cuomo's staff is arguing these records have been “compiled for law enforcement purposes” and if disclosed would "interfere" with law enforcement investigations. Attorney General Letitia James’ office is investigating Cuomo’s use of government staff to produce his book "American Crisis," which made the governor $5.1 million. So far, Cuomo’s office says that no overtime was paid to staffers for work on the book and that any overtime requested was “to help assist in the operation of state government." The Times Union used the Freedom of Information law to request the days certain junior Executive Chamber staffers earned overtime last year and any records providing a reason as to why the extra work was necessary, but Cuomo's office will not provide the public information. Cuomo's assistant counsel Valerie Lubanko says that there were “several ongoing investigations relating to the governor’s book ‘American Crisis’ for which disclosure of records could impact these ongoing investigations.... Production may also deprive interested individuals of an impartial adjudication of any potential claims." Cuomo’s counsel earlier promised not to use government staff on the book when seeking approval from the Joint Commission on Public Ethics, but now won't reveal the public information related to the issue. Read more about this story in the Times Union.