EDITORIAL: Can we really trust the Assembly on Cuomo now?

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, D-Bronx, listens as New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks during a news conference on a legislative ethics reform agreement in the Red Room at the Capitol on Wednesday, March 18, 2015, in Albany, N.Y.
PHOTOGRAPHER:
Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, D-Bronx, listens as New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks during a news conference on a legislative ethics reform agreement in the Red Room at the Capitol on Wednesday, March 18, 2015, in Albany, N.Y.

Once you lose credibility, it’s really difficult to get it back.

So while we applaud state Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie’s change of heart in pursuing investigations against Gov. Andrew Cuomo, it’s going to be difficult to trust whatever the Assembly does now going forward.

Heastie on Friday announced that in the wake of Cuomo’s resignation over sexual harassment allegations, the Assembly would not conduct impeachment proceedings against the governor.

That decision made sense practically and politically. If the point of impeachment is to remove a governor from office, and the governor is no longer in office, then why waste the time and tax money and create a distraction on a moot process?

But Heastie went further than he should have, by announcing that not only would the Assembly not pursue impeachment, it also would suspend its investigations into Cuomo’s conduct regarding the sexual harassment, the use of government staff for his private book deal and the policy decisions and cover-up related to the governor’s covid nursing home response.

The public deserves answers to these questions, and as such deserved to have the Assembly continue with its investigations.

By suspending the investigations, Heastie raised questions about the Assembly’s sincerity to give the public those answers.

The decision raised questions about whether fellow Democrats Heastie and Cuomo made a deal for Cuomo to resign in exchange for no impeachment. It raised questions of whether the Assembly was ever sincere in its efforts to get to the bottom of those scandals and whether it was serious about holding Cuomo responsible for his misdeeds. It raised questions about whether the Assembly was taking the sexual harassment accusers seriously.

Heastie must have read the deluge of negative comments on social media over the weekend, because on Monday morning, he reversed course and said the Assembly would indeed keep the investigations coming.

That’s good news . But it might not be enough to make people fully trust the process.

Even Heastie’s failure to provide a timeline for the conclusion of the investigations on Monday raises questions about whether the public will actually ever see any reports. He might just be quashing the voices of outrage to buy time to sweep this under the rug.

See how this works? Once trust is lost, it’s difficult to get back.

And if we can’t trust this process, can we ever truly trust that justice is being served?

Categories: Editorial, Opinion

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