Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo was allegedly briefed on the details of a closed-door vote by the state Joint Commission on Public Ethics last January, around the time the panel voted on whether to investigate Joseph Percoco, a former top aide to the governor.
The allegation — that someone in JCOPE may have illegally informed the governor or his staff about the voting breakdown of the panel’s non-public decision — was secretly investigated by the state inspector general’s office between January and Oct. 4, when the inspector general sent a letter to JCOPE stating its investigation had been unable to substantiate the complaint.
The apparent breach of JCOPE’s bylaws was revealed when Cuomo allegedly contacted Assembly Speaker Carl E. Heastie almost immediately following the commission’s January meeting and expressed concerns about the votes of the speaker’s appointees to JCOPE.
Julie A. Garcia, a Warren County attorney who had been appointed to JCOPE by Heastie in August 2018, said she cannot discuss any matters related to the commission’s discussions or votes in executive sessions.
But without disclosing what the vote related to, Garcia confirmed that she complained to former JCOPE Executive Director Seth Agata last January that someone from Heastie’s staff had contacted her shortly after a commission meeting in January and informed her about Cuomo’s alleged conversation with the legislative leader.
The state’s embattled ethics agency refused Tuesday to release the whistleblower complaint that prompted the state’s Inspector General to open a probe into leaks involving Gov. Andrew Cuomo and state Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie.
The Joint Commission on Public Ethics met behind closed doors for almost four hours in Albany and then suddenly adjourned, refusing to cast a vote on releasing the complaint or to answer questions from reporters about it.
The complaint alleges that Gov. Cuomo and Assembly Speaker Heastie spoke in Jan. 2019 about JCOPE’s confidential deliberations around a possible probe of Joe Percoco, Cuomo’s former top aide and fixer — who now sits in federal prison following a 2016 corruption conviction.
State Inspector General Letizia Tagliafierro — a Cuomo appointee, who said she recused herself from the leak probe — sent a letter on Oct. 4 saying her office couldn’t substantiate the claim.
The entire affair is cloaked in mystery.
JCOPE refuses to comment on Percoco or any possible investigation. And Tagliafierro’s office refuses to say whether or not Cuomo or Heastie were interviewed as part of the probe.
“Consistent with other investigative bodies, this agency cannot discuss the particulars of investigative methods or procedures – particularly in matters that are unsubstantiated,” Tagliafierro’s spokesman Lee Park told The Post, adding the letter is subject state freedom of information laws.