Former Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks to reporters following a closed-door...

Former Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks to reporters following a closed-door interview with the House Oversight and Accountability Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic in Washington, D.C. on June 11. Credit: Getty Images/Al Drago

ALBANY — Former Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has filed a lawsuit to force New York to continue paying for his attorneys’ fees in litigation related to the sexual harassment allegations that fueled his 2021 resignation.

Cuomo has ongoing legal battles in two federal lawsuits filed against him alleging sexual harassment. Related to those fights, Cuomo has a separate legal proceeding, based on the state Freedom of Information Law, against Attorney General Letitia James seeking to force her office to turn over investigative materials from her interviews with some of the women as well as other state employees.

A federal judge has ruled James doesn’t have to comply with Cuomo’s subpoena.

While the state has continued to pay for Cuomo’s defense in the federal lawsuits, state Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli’s office recently said it won’t pay for Cuomo’s fight against James because it doesn’t qualify as a reasonable defense expense.

That prompted Cuomo’s attorney to sue DiNapoli Tuesday in state court, calling the denial “arbitrary and capricious” and asking a judge to intervene.

“Contrary to (comptrollers’ office) assertion in the denial letter, the requested materials are highly relevant to the federal actions,” wrote Rita Glavin, Cuomo’s attorney.

New York already has paid $11.5 million in taxpayers’ money to support the defense of Cuomo and other former executive staff employees in civil lawsuits filed against the former governor, the comptroller’s office said Wednesday.

DiNapoli’s office acknowledged law generally requires the state to “provide for the defense of employees in actions arising out of their public duties.”

But in a February letter, a comptroller’s counsel said FOIL lawsuit against James doesn’t qualify as a defense expense.

“It cannot be credibly maintained that the former Governor’s FOIL demand to the OAG and ensuing litigation are reasonable expenses related to his defense in the federal action,” wrote Michael D. Kogut, a counsel in DiNapoli’s office.

It was just one development this week in the ongoing fallout from Cuomo’s resignation amid an impeachment inquiry.

James’ probe of the claims of Charlotte Bennett, an ex-Cuomo aide, and other women in 2021 had launched State Assembly impeachment investigation of Cuomo, which also covered other issues. Amid the inquiry, he resigned.

On Wednesday, a federal judge issued a key ruling in Bennett's subsequent lawsuit against the ex-governor, quashing a subpoena Cuomo sought to use to force James’ office to turn over “witness interview memoranda and unredacted witness transcripts” from her investigation, according to court documents.

Federal magistrate Sarah L. Cave in Manhattan said Cuomo failed to establish “any violation of any federal right,” among other things, that would force James to comply with the subpoena.

Further, Cave said Cuomo already has had “numerous” other avenues to seek information, including being allowed to serve at least 20 other subpoenas in the case, obtaining “voluminous discovery from Ms. Bennett,” and pursuing FOIL requests for materials.

The judge wrote: “With more than seven months remaining in the fact discovery period, there appears to be ample time for Mr. Cuomo to pursue one or more of these alternatives — and perhaps others — to the OAG subpoena.”

Rich Azzopardi, Cuomo’s spokesman, responded: “We respectfully disagree with this decision which will establish a terrible precedent allowing state agencies like the attorney general’s office to pick and choose willy nilly when or when not to turn over documents in federal cases. We are reviewing our options to appeal.”

NewsdayTV's Elisa DiStefano and Newsday food writer Marie Elena Martinez take a look at the hottest places to dine on Long Island this summer.  Credit: Randee Daddona; Newsday / A.J. Singh

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NewsdayTV's Elisa DiStefano and Newsday food writer Marie Elena Martinez take a look at the hottest places to dine on Long Island this summer.  Credit: Randee Daddona; Newsday / A.J. Singh

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