One of New York State’s most powerful Democratic lawmakers, former Lt. Gov. and current state Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, will be deposed this week to answer questions related to a former staff member’s sexual harassment charges against his brother.
Last November, former aide Avi Fink accused Andrew Cuomo of systematically retaliating against him for reporting sexual harassment. Fink said that Andrew had continuously harassed him, mostly through text messages, and that when he asked to report the abuse to Heastie or to see his boss’s log of text messages related to him, he was told to reach out to his brother.
Cuomo has denied Fink’s allegations, saying he has not yet seen evidence that connects his brother to any harassment or that he is responsible for it. While the former aide has a list of the top 10 female Democratic legislators that he says Andrew harassed, Cuomo has denied to do so.
On June 24, Andrew Cuomo met with Attorney General Eric Schneiderman to determine if “there are any plans to do an official investigation, let alone subpoena him, into what allegations have been made against his brother, Governor Andrew Cuomo.” A six-figure lawyer agreed to take the deposition on the governor’s behalf, but only after repeatedly threatening Fink with “irreparable damages” and “everything, from my personal life to my reputation to my children’s future to the reputation of the New York State Assembly.”
When Heastie learned of the claims, he reportedly instructed then-Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver to be prepared to take him to criminal court. Heastie’s subpoena of his brother’s secret personnel file was a violation of the state labor code, according to Silver, and he ultimately denied Heastie’s request to receive the file and fired his legal team. Silver also said Andrew Heastie threatened to keep him from being paid if he didn’t comply with the subpoena.
Both Heastie and Silver are already in the midst of multiple investigations and lawsuits after claims of sexual harassment and legislative pay-offs.
Cuomo’s office has claimed Heastie had the power to fire Fink, but when asked about that claim last month, the governor declined to comment, noting that he didn’t have control over the personnel files of employees of the state assembly. Cuomo has also stated that he has been contacted by a criminal and financial institution looking into Fink’s claim.
Heastie said Thursday that he was launching an investigation to ensure that he hadn’t “abused his power,” but the investigation has been moved forward without his consent.
“There is an investigation where the minute his brother came forward he was called by a criminal bank that would’ve come looking to me about anything, from political activity to any donation. So I don’t believe they will find anything against him,” Heastie told “Fox & Friends” Thursday.
When pressed on whether Heastie hired his brother as political appointee, Heastie said he does not know his brother’s finances, and that he had an initial meeting with him at the end of July last year and felt like his brother was sincere in wanting to help the people of New York.
He said he has made every effort to find out what has happened to his brother’s “poor wife and children,” and he said he’s never spoken to the governor.
Cuomo spokesman Richard Azzopardi declined to comment, referring all questions to the attorney who has defended Andrew Cuomo from current and past sexual harassment and corruption allegations.
According to Associated Press sources, Michael Sussman, a former U.S. attorney in Manhattan and head of white collar criminal defense at the firm Proskauer Rose, will represent the governor on this matter.
Dave Weigel contributed to this report.
John Roberts joined FOX News Channel (FNC) in 2001 and currently serves as a senior political analyst for FOX News Channel (FNC) and FOX Business Network (FBN).