Governor Andrew Cuomo defended his appointment this week of Melissa DeRosa to Secretary. DeRosa comes from a family of prominent Albany lobbyists, and some believe that could present a conflict of interest. Zack Fink filed the following report.
In his first public comments since appointing Melissa DeRosa to be his top aide, Governor Andrew Cuomo defended the move, despite DeRosa's father and brother being prominent Albany lobbyists.
"Melissa DeRosa is the first female Secretary to the Governor. She is an extraordinary talent. She has worked for me. She has worked for the attorney general. She worked with the federal government before that. She is one of the young superstars in the business. Her father is a longtime well-known lobbyist in Albany. Everybody knows that," Cuomo said.
Cuomo says it's easy enough for DeRosa to recuse herself on matters where her family lobbies the Governor's office.
"No, people recuse themselves from items all the time," the governor said. "People come from an employer and they have to recuse themselves from that employer. People join from a law firm, they recuse themselves from any matter that the law firm handles. People come from a private company, they need to recuse themselves from any matter that private company handles. So it's very common to have recusals."
In a statement, DeRosa said, in part, "This is not a new issue for me – my father went into this line of work over 25 years ago, and I have been involved in government and politics for over a decade. Regardless of my job title, I have always conducted myself with the highest ethical standards and will continue to."
DeRosa also noted that she has recused herself whenever necessary and is contacting the state ethics board about her new role to avoid the appearance of any impropriety.
While Cuomo was quick to say even asking about DeRosa and a potential conflict amounts to sexism, it's probably worth noting that one of the most vocal critics has been Susan Lerner of Common Cause New York, who is a woman.