Attorney for Cuomo’s office: “We’re fully cooperating with the U.S. Attorney’s Office” (Updated)

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Criminal defense lawyer Elkan Abramowitz, quietly hired several months ago to represent the executive chamber in the Moreland Commission probe, said today that the governor’s office will fully cooperate in the U.S. Attorney’s Office investigation.

cuomohall“The chamber, as we’ve told the U.S. Attorney’s Office, is cooperating fully with their investigation,” Abramowitz confirmed today.

Abramowitz said he’s not representing Gov. Andrew Cuomo or any one particular individual as the U.S. Attorney’s Office investigates the disbandment of the Moreland Commission in March by Cuomo and questions about whether the office interfered with the commission’s work.

He’s representing the entire executive chamber. He wouldn’t say when he was retained or provide details about his contract.

There was no immediate comment from the governor’s office about Abramowitz’s salary. The Moreland Commission itself has hired its own criminal attorney, Michael Koenig, and how much he’s being paid hasn’t been revealed.

Updated: Abramowitz will be funded through Cuomo’s campaign account, which had $35 million in it last month, Cuomo’s office said.

“Although the chamber could have procured counsel at state expense, the governor’s campaign will pay for the lawyer acting as chamber counsel to avoid any cost to taxpayers,” said Cuomo’s budget office spokesman Morris Peters.

Koenig’s contract was approved by the state Attorney General’s Office, but has yet to be approved by the state Comptroller’s Office. So neither the state budget office nor the attorney general’s office would provide details about the contract until it receives final approval.

Republican gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino today questioned how much taxpayer money is going to the legal fees surrounding the Moreland Commission probe.

“New Yorkers already pay the highest taxes in America under this governor,” Astorino said in a statement. “They have a right to know how much more they’re spending to defend their governor from a criminal probe. Few New Yorkers could afford high-powered lawyers like this for themselves, and yet they have to pay for them for Andrew Cuomo. At a minimum they should know what that’s costing them.”

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7 Comments

  1. i six eighty-four on

    Wow the gov lawyered up pretty fast. Didn’t expect that. Another sign of guilt?

  2. Counterpoint on

    Wow! That’s pretty interesting. A criminal lawyer was hired to represent the “executive chamber” – never heard that one before.
    1. Why can’t the Governor’s counsel (already on the public payroll) represent the “ececutive chamber”?
    2. Didn’t know that the executive chamber was an entity that could hire a lawyer – would like to see the retainer agreement printed in the Journal News – but would probably have to use legal process to obtain it.
    3. Is Larry (The Brain) Schwartz, the Governor’s secretary, part of the “executive chamber”? If so, there is a clear conflict of interest re/ his alleged role in attempting to influence the Moreland Commission to pull back subpoenas and/or curtail investigations into big time campaign contributors to the governor – unless they are admitting that Larry was working at his the Gov’s direction and/or with his knowledge and approval. What about subpoenas for email etc. communications by Larry, the Governor, and/or others in the “executive chambers” that may incriminate the Governor – to whom does the criminal attorney owe his loyality?
    3. Since the Governor has $65 million in campaign funds, why doesn’t his election fund pay for the services of a criminal attorney hired to represent and defend the “executive chamber”?

    This gets more interesting every day. What a web we weave, eh Governor?

  3. just the facts on

    the governors counsel’s job is to advise him on state
    affairs…he is not the governor’s personal attorney
    In a criminal proceeding against the governor by the US
    attorney the attorney for the governor’s office would have
    a conflict automatically since he is also sworn to uphold
    the constition of the state which might conflict with whatever defense might be offered on behalf of the governor in a future criminal prosecution…now this is what the US attorney should do….do not give cuomo immunity and ask him in front of a grand jury if he instructed larry schwartz to talk to any possible witnesses after interviewing all those witnesses and
    cautioning them on the felony called perjury or lying
    to a federal official….then they see what cuomo has to say without immunity…..if they have contradictory information from any of a number of statewide officials
    he is done

  4. Astorino Stone Head: How much Westchester tax money has been paid to hired and in house legal teams for your failed pandering lost battle fighting a done deal with HUD???

  5. Counterpoint on

    Just the Facts – in a statement issued Friday Abramowitz clarified that he was retained to represent the Chamber because Mylan Denerstein, counsel to the governor, will be a witness in the investigation. By the way, his firm contributed $11,000 to the Governor’s re-election campaign, which will be paying his (undisclosed) legal fee. It should be pretty high since he is a senior partner in one of the (if not the) premier white collar criminal defense law firms in the US.

  6. just the facts on

    thousand bucks and hour….out of campaign funds..
    wonder if those contributing thought that is what their
    money would be used for…..paying criminal lawyers
    fees to avoid being prosecuted by the US attorney for
    obstruction and or tampering