VIDEO: Cuomo Expresses Confidence In DiFiore As Head of JCOPE

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Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Wednesday expressed support for Westchester County District Attorney Janet DiFiore as head of the state’s ethics watchdog agency amid allegations that she helped her housekeeper get public assistance.

“I’ll leave that to Westchester County to sort out. And I’ll stay out of the county’s process and stay out of the local politics,” Cuomo said following a news conference.

“But I think the chairperson, having a sitting district attorney and in particular Janet DiFiore, the Westchester County district attorney, I have total confidence in that decision.”

Cuomo picked DiFiore late last year to serve as chairwoman of the new Joint Committee on Public Ethics.

The panel, however, has been embattled from the start, and Cuomo said Wednesday he will look to make changes to the rules of the board – particularly how it deals with complaints against public officials.

On Monday, media reports surfaced that the county’s Department of Social Services is probing whether DiFiore used her influence to get her family’s live-in housekeeper food stamps, Medicaid benefits and cash assistance.

DiFiore has denied the claims, and Cuomo said he would let any investigation be handled by county officials. But he cautioned that the allegations appear to have “political overtones” to them.

He said DiFiore has a strong reputation and dismissed that she wasn’t probably vetted for the JCOPE post.

“What else could you have possibly done?” Cuomo said. “She’s an elected district attorney of Westchester County, head of the district attorney’ association for the state of New York with an impeccable reputation.”

JCOPE meets Thursday in Albany. The ethics commission was established last year to much fanfare by lawmakers and Cuomo.

But it has faced questions about whether it lacks enough transparency. Earlier this month, the panel was accused of potentially leaking information about a possible investigation into Sen. Thomas Libous, R-Binghamton.

Binghamton Mayor Matt Ryan, a Democrat, filed a complaint in April against Libous after a witness in a Yonkers corruption trial alleged that Libous used his influence to get his son a job at a Westchester law firm.

Cuomo said he has a problem with the “running commentary” from JCOPE about his potential investigations. He said the panel, and the laws that govern it, need to weigh the public’s right to know and its ability to investigate ethics allegations in private.

“I believe that’s going to be an ongoing process,” Cuomo said. “I can see already certain changes that have to be made.”

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10 Comments

  1. just the facts on

    that’s because there is absolutely no reason for him to get into it..difiore is chairwoman
    of JCOPE..end of story

  2. “Madam, any chance of getting a raise?” “Sorry, not this year, dear. Why don’t you try food stamps?”

  3. just the facts on

    the question is who leaked the information of the housekeeper….she had a right to
    an expectation of privacy about her financial affairs…but aside from that issue the only
    other issue that is germain is whether she was or wasn’t entitled to the assistance..and
    that decision is totally in the hands of DSS….

  4. just the facts on

    what’s the difference..this isn’t a spelling test……but it is a great way to avoid the core issue

  5. You sure it’s not the corpse issue? Maybe you want to start a not for profit, The Housekeepers’ Defense Fund. Or are you just a spinner for the DA?

  6. just the facts on

    its a corpus issue….delecti….and no one has to spin for the DA….but someone has to
    investigate who leaked the information

  7. Once, in a Washington Hotel, I couldn’t sleep because of a dripping faucet in the bathroom and I called the desk. I told the clerk, “Listen, I can’t sleep. I got a leak in the sink.” He responded, “Do whatever you want.”