11:57 am Oct. 1, 2012
Right now, State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli is under intense scrutiny for the role his office played in approving a quiet $103,000 payment to settle sexual harassment accusations against Assemblyman Vito Lopez.
That payment is now the subject of an investigation by the Cuomo-dominated Joint Commission on Public Ethics.
After the Lopez payment came to light, though, it was revealed that while he was attorney general, Andrew Cuomo's staff approved a settlement payment to a state worker that, like the Lopez settlement, included a confidentiality clause.
Cuomo has been critical of the Lopez settlement, and of the current attorney general and comptroller's roles in approving it. But his office's explanations of the settlement he approved as attorney general sound a lot like the comptroller's explanations of the Lopez-settlement process, amounting in both cases to pleas of ignorance on behalf of the principals and trivialization of the importance of what their subordinates did.
Here are some statements made by both sides about their respective cases:
We "processed an electronic payment."
"It's just a sign-off."
"Certainly, we were not involved in the negotiation or approval of the settlement."
"It's just approving a payment request."
"At no time was this matter brought to the comptroller’s personal attention."
"[N]o senior attorney general staff were involved in approving this case."
"The comptroller has said the settlement talks weren't brought to his personal attention."