Even with Paterson not running for reelection, there’s still some looking into to be done over recent revelations.
New York Governor David Paterson called his Attorney General, Andrew Cuomo, this week and asked that Cuomo’s office investigate the allegations that Paterson or others in his administration interfered in a domestic violence where it was alleged one of his senior aides severely beat his girlfriend.
Certainly that would be an investigation within the purview and job description of the AG’s office. But what happens when the lead attorney — the AG himself — is hoping to take over the job from the investigatee? After all, it would seem Cuomo has a little bit of interest in he outcome of this one.
We weren’t the only attorneys wondering about this conflict of interest issues with this one. Jeremy Peters of The New York Times examines the issue today, and it seems the ethicist, as well as former AGs — are split on the issue.
One thing for certain is that there is not actual requirement Cuomo recuse himself; after all, he’s not officially running for governor yet. But we doubt there is a single New Yorker who does not think Cuomo is going to announce his candidacy sooner or later.
Former AG G. Oliver Koppel suggested that Cuomo use his recusal power and ask the state to pay for private counsel.
Another former AG, Dennis Vacco, however, said it’s Cuomo’s job and, as long as he is not officially running for governor, he can handle the investigation.
This seems, more than anything, like a time to employ the old “appearance of impropriety” idea. We have not seen any suggestions that Cuomo’s interest in the governorship would actually influence the investigation, but, no matter what, there would be questions should an investigation by Cuomo’s office lead to Paterson no longer being the governor.
And eliminating those questions and appointing an independent investigator would seem to make the most sense. Of course, in doing so, Cuomo would have to admit that he’s seriously considering a run for governor.
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