New York Governor Andrew Cuomo reportedly accepted a hefty campaign donation from Harvey Weinstein's attorney around the same time he decided to delay an investigation into the disgraced movie mogul's alleged sexual misconduct.
According to a report from Sludge, Boies, Schiller & Flexner LLP, the law firm representing Weinstein, sent Cuomo $25,000 for his 2018 gubernatorial reelection campaign, the latest in a string of donations the firm has given to Cuomo since 2009. Word of the donation—which Sludge uncovered in New York state records—arrives on the heels of BuzzFeed News' findings that Cuomo had ordered the attorney general's office to postpone its probe into Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance's handling of the 2015 case against Weinstein, which he dismissed.
In a statement to Broadly, Cuomo's office disputed that the two events were causal, arguing that Cuomo has been accepting campaign donations from Weinstein's lawyer for years.
"As was reported, the firm donated $200K over the last 10 years, and that didn’t stop the Governor from directing the investigation into the matter," Dani Lever, Cuomo's press secretary, said in a emailed statement.
"You can’t have it both ways," she continued. "The only reason to temporarily postpone the [attorney general’s] investigation was to avoid interference with the ongoing criminal prosecution against Harvey Weinstein."
A source from the governor's office also told Broadly that if Cuomo hadn't postponed the investigation of Vance—who reportedly took money from Weinstein's lawyers as well—Weinstein's legal representation could have obtained "additional information to use for his defense."
A spokesperson from Boies, Schiller & Flexner LLP similarly argued that the recent donation had nothing to do with Weinstein's ongoing New York criminal case. "Neither Mr. [David] Boies, nor anyone from his firm, ever discussed Harvey Weinstein or Mr. Vance with Mr. Cuomo, or anyone from his office, at any time," the spokesperson wrote in an email. "Mr. Boies is a longtime supporter of Mr. Cuomo and his contribution in June was consistent with his contributions to Mr. Cuomo over years past."
Cuomo returned donations from Weinstein's company and Weinstein himself—amounting to more than $110,000—in October, amid the landslide of sexual assault allegations against the Hollywood titan. No one from Cuomo's campaign team was immediately available to comment on whether the governor has considered returning the donations from Boies, Schiller & Flexner LLP.
Cynthia Nixon's team says Cuomo has more explaining to do.
"Cynthia believes the Governor owes New Yorkers a real explanation," Lauren Hitt, a spokeswoman for the Nixon campaign, told Broadly in an email. "Cuomo made a big public show of ordering the investigation, and then he very, very quietly suspended it. He's now come up with an excuse for why the investigation was suspended, but he still needs to explain to New York's women why he wasn't upfront about the suspension in the first place. "
Cuomo didn't face any questions about his involvement with the Weinstein case Wednesday night, when he took the stage at Hofstra University to spar with Nixon in the only debate before the September 13 primaries.
But Nixon has criticized Cuomo in the past for not being a strong enough advocate for the #MeToo movement.
"In an election year when women are rising up against these predators and their allies, the governor is trying to protect himself…," Nixon told Politico in June. "New York can do much better than reelecting a hypocritical governor who ignores the victims and, instead, chooses to shield those who have been accused."