Gov. Andrew Cuomo has long-standing ties to the state official who dismissed a whistleblower’s claim that the governor was illegally tipped off to a potential probe into a crooked former top aide, Joe Percoco, The Post has learned.
Cuomo was New York’s attorney general when he hired lawyer Spencer Freedman as his chief counsel for civil rights in 2008, records show.
Following Cuomo’s election as governor, Freedman was named the state’s executive deputy inspector general by then-IG Catherine Leahy Scott, a Cuomo appointee.
That appointment let Freedman take over the whistleblower case when Scott’s successor, Letizia Tagliafierro, had to recuse herself because of her own Cuomo ties, which include spending years as one of his closest advisors.
Freedman should also have recused himself from investigating the alleged leak of information about a secret January meeting of the Joint Commission on Public Ethics, critics said.
“An executive staffer in the IG’s office who did not work for Cuomo seven years ago should have conducted the investigation. But it would be preferable to have a completely different office separate from the executive or legislature,” said Alex Camarda of Reinvent Albany.
Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb (R-Geneva) said, “This was never a serious investigation, in fact, it has the appearance of a cover-up.”
“You can’t expect a credible inquiry when Cuomo appointees are investigating the very people who appointed them,” he added.
A spokesman for the IG’s Office, Lee Park, defended Freedman as “a career public servant … with utmost integrity” and said “it is statutorily mandated that these matters be handled by the Inspector General’s Office.”