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The Long Islander In Charge Of Cuomo Impeachment Inquiry

New York Assemblyman Charles D. Lavine, D-Glen Cove, during a public hearing on sexual harassment in the workplace, in Albany, N.Y., on Feb. 12, 2019.
Hans Pennink
Associated Press

The New York State Assembly Judiciary Committee has started its months-long impeachment inquiry into Governor Andrew Cuomo. The chairman who will run the investigation is Charles Lavine, a 73-year-old Democrat from Glen Cove who has been in the Assembly since 2005.

As head of the judiciary committee, he is tasked with reviewing the governor’s nursing home policy during the pandemic, sexual harassment allegations from former staffers, possible COVID-19 testing preference given to his family, among other issues. There has only been one impeachment of a governor, 108 years ago with Governor William Selzer.

“The questions we deal with are so incredibly profound. The impeachment question is of tremendous significance. And I can't help but think that 108 years from now," Lavine said on the committee's first day exploring the inquiry. "People will be concerned. And we will study what it is that we, as a state legislature are doing.”

Lavine has support from Democrats and Republicans, despite skepticism about the Assembly probe from Cuomo’s accusers.

He is a quiet force in his chamber and avoids the press. Lavine is well-respected for a prior chairmanship on the Assembly ethics committee. He oversaw investigations of other Democrats involved in sexual harassment scandals.

“Let’s face it, someone working in a company or a corporation is going to probably feel a whole lot more comfortable reaching out to someone outside the chain of command," Lavine said on the Assembly floor in 2019 when he helped craft the state’s updated laws for sexual harassment in the workplace. He became a voice for change on a task force he chaired in 2013 that revised sexual harassment policies in the Assembly. 

"We learned this the hard way in the New York State Assembly.”

Now, the judiciary committee will recommend whether the Assembly should vote on Cuomo’s impeachment.

A native Long Islander, J.D. is WSHU's managing editor. He also hosts the climate podcast Higher Ground. J.D. reports for public radio stations across the Northeast, is a journalism educator and proud SPJ member.