ALBANY — Signaling a split in New York Democratic ranks, a group of 23 Democratic women in the state Assembly said Monday an attorney general’s investigation of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo should be allowed to be completed — a pushback against those calling for the governor’s resignation.
The effort is notable in part because it is led by Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes (D-Buffalo), the second-most powerful member of the Assembly, and because it came a day after Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins (D-Yonkers) said Cuomo "must resign" because of separate investigations regarding nursing homes and sexual harassment allegations.
The letter reflects Democrats in the Assembly are perhaps more split than their Senate counterparts about whether Cuomo should resign, sources said. Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie (D-Bronx) on Sunday didn’t go as far as Stewart-Cousins; he said Cuomo should consider whether he can still serve "effectively."
The letter was sent to reporters less than 30 minutes before Assembly Democrats were scheduled to meet privately. They said Attorney General Letitia James investigation of sexual harassment allegations shouldn’t be undermined.
"We request that she be allowed the appropriate time to complete her investigation rather than undermine her role and responsibility as the chief law enforcement officer of the state of New York," the letter read.
The two Long Island signatories were Assemb. Gina Sillitti (D-Manorhaven) and Kimberly Jean-Pierre (D-Wheatley Heights).
In contrast, legislators who have called for Cuomo to step down saw the letter as a stall tactic.
Assemb. Yuh-Line Niou (D-Manhattan) wrote on Twitter that the letter was part of a "playbook to delay for time."
Just after the letter went out, Assembly Minority Leader Will Barclay (R-Pulaski) called on Democrats to support an impeachment resolution he is sponsoring.
"The real problem is the governor has lost so much credibility, he can no longer govern," Barclay said.
Conducting business as usual, Cuomo's lone public appearance Monday was at the Jacob Javits Center in Manhattan, touring one of the state's several mass vaccination sites. Flanked by African-American clergy members and state officials, he sought to encouraged minority residents to get a COVID-19 shot.
The event was closed to the media and Cuomo didn't address the calls for him to step down. On Sunday, he said there was "no way" he would resign.