Could Cuomo face an impeachment inquiry?

Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Wednesday said he was not going to resign over allegations of sexual harassment even as New York Democrats and Republicans alike have called for him to step down.

"I wasn't elected by politicians, I was elected by the people of the state of New York," Cuomo said.

But while politicians did not elect him, they do have the power to impeach and remove him.

And on Tuesday, six socialist members of the state Senate and Assembly called for doing just that.

"Governor Cuomo has repeatedly abused his powers and yet has faced no accountability." the lawmakers wrote in a joint statement. They cited not only the allegations of sexual harassment against Cuomo but also the investigation into his office's undercounting COVID deaths at nursing homes and reports of bullying behavior against colleagues and employees.

'Embarrassed' Cuomo apologizes, won't resign

Unlike the federal constitution, which defines impeachable offenses as "treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors," New York's constitution leaves impeachable offenses undefined.

"The ambiguity gives the legislature quite an opportunity here to define its own terms," said Jake Neiheisel, a political science professor at the University of Buffalo.

Impeachment requires the approval of a majority of the 150-member Assembly, while two-thirds of the "Court for the Trial of Impeachments" — or the 63 members of the Senate plus the judges on the state's high court — are required to convict the governor.

In 1913, Gov. William Sulzer had been in office for just a year when he became the first and only New York governor to be impeached after getting on the wrong side of Tammany Hall's political boss, Charles F. "Silent Charlie" Murphy, who then engineered Sulzer's conviction and removal from office for filing false campaign contribution reports.

Calls growing for Cuomo to resign

Nearly 100 years later, in 2008, Gov. Eliot Spitzer, under criminal investigation for soliciting an escort, resigned before Republican calls for impeachment picked up steam.

As for Cuomo, Neiheisel said the current push for impeachment faces an uphill battle in the Democratic-controlled state.

"Never say never, but I would not bet on it," Neiheisel said.

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