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.
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.”