Even by Cuomo standards what happened on Wednesday was stunning. First, Charles Lavine, the DEMOCRAT chair of the Assembly’s Judiciary Committee (and thus head of the Assembly’s investigation into Cuomo’s alleged harassment) sent a scathing letter to Governor Cuomo telling him essentially to reign in his “bulldog”. Rich Azzorpardi, the Gov’s self-proclaimed “bulldog” spokesman, had tweeted about Tish James’ investigation of the Gov, and he implied she was doing the investigation because she wants to be Gov herself.
Lavine reminded Cuomo that anything either Cuomo or his staff did to discredit an ongoing investigation (one that Cuomo himself personally asked for in James’ case!) would be frowned upon and could merit “severe repercussions.” The fact that Lavine wrote the letter and did so publicly is remarkable. But then the Governor’s office responded to Lavine, and that response was even more incredible. That response was issued by Beth Garvey, Cuomo’s acting legal counsel. She responded to Lavine’s letter by stating, “There is a clear difference between actionable retaliation and protected speech, and it is clear that the Chairman doesn’t understand the difference. We will have a formal response forthcoming.”
There are three things to note here:
First, Garvey claiming that Lavine “doesn’t know the difference” is rich, considering it was her own client (Cuomo) who recently stated in a presser that just because someone felt uncomfortable due to something he said, that in and of itself wasn’t harassment. Yet the very state statute that Cuomo himself signed into law says yes it does indeed make it harassment. When it comes to not “knowing the difference” Cuomo’s the current champ, and Beth Garvey just reminded us all of that.
Second, did she really use the phrase “actionable retaliation” in her response? Consider that after Lindsey Boylan came out with her allegations against Gov Cuomo in December, her personnel file was leaked to the media in response. Even if you believe what Azzorpardi tweeted wasn’t “actionable”, what happened to Boylan clearly was. One wonders if AG James might just point that out using Garvey’s very own words when she writes her final report.
Thirdly, Lavine is doing his own investigation into the Governor. Yet Beth Garvey publicly attacked the Chairman and basically called him stupid. Has Beth Garvey never heard the phrase “don’t poke the bear?” Why would you attack the person who can make life much more difficult for your client?
What’s so ridiculous about the brief response from Garvey is she knows better. Her last line was, “We will have a more formal response forthcoming.”
Fine, a formal response makes sense. A formal response involves thought, reason, and contemplation. Her spur-of-the-moment attack response contained none of that.
To put it another way using the legal counsel’s own vernacular - there is a clear difference between knee-jerk stupidity and more formal appropriate responses, and it is clear that Beth Garvey doesn’t know the difference.