By David Thomas
(Reuters) – For her five-month probe of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, state Attorney General Letitia James tapped a former top federal prosecutor at one of Manhattan’s white-shoe law firms and a lawyer known for working on employment and discrimination cases.
The investigation, which found on Tuesday that Cuomo sexually harassed multiple women in violation of state and federal law and created a climate of fear within his office, was led by Joon Kim, a partner at Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton, along with partner Anne Clark of Vladeck, Raskin & Clark.
Kim joined the U.S. attorney’s office in Manhattan in 2013 and rose to become the deputy U.S. attorney under Preet Bharara. Bharara was fired by former President Donald Trump in 2017 and Kim was appointed acting U.S. attorney.
Kim joined Cleary in 2018, where he has represented clients such as Nissan (OTC:) Motor Co Ltd, which is facing scrutiny over allegations of misconduct by its former chief executive officer Carlos Ghosn.
James hired both Kim and Clark’s firms in March, tapping 12 attorneys from Cleary and four from the Vladeck firm. The state has agreed to pay more than $3.5 million for their work, according to public, including $2.552 million to Cleary and $950,000 to the Vladeck firm.
Cuomo, who has denied any inappropriate conduct, questioned the credibility of James’ investigators during a July 26 press conference.
“I have concerns as to the independence of the reviewers,” he said, before telling reporters to research them on Google (NASDAQ:).
Kim has investigated Cuomo before – the U.S. attorney’s office in 2014 looked into Cuomo’s decision to disband the Moreland Commission, an anti-corruption panel, nine months after he convened it. The office said there was “insufficient” evidence to prove any crimes had occurred.
Press inquiries to Kim and Clark were forwarded to the attorney general’s office, where a spokesman deferred to James’ comments during a press conference on Tuesday.
“Miss Clark and Mr. Kim, and their respective firms, were chosen to lead this investigation because of their decades of work at the highest levels, their deep expertise on matters in question, and their careers fighting to uphold the rule of law,” James said.
Kim said at Tuesday’s press conference that the governor’s workplace was “rife with bullying, fear and intimidation” and crossing Cuomo or his senior staff meant you would be “written off, cast aside or worse.”
Clark is an employment law lawyer who joined Vladeck nearly 30 years ago. She successfully represented Demos Parneros, the former CEO of Barnes & Noble (NYSE:) Inc in litigation after he was fired in July 2018. The bookstore chain said he was fired, in part, due to claims he had sexually harassed a female employee; Parneros denied the allegations, saying the company made up reasons to fire him.
She and Kim “ensured this investigation was both independent and thorough,” James said.
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