The office of State Attorney General Letitia James is facing calls to provide more details about an internal sexual harassment investigation that led to the resignation of Chief of Staff Ibrahim Khan.
Sources say Khan resigned earlier this month after sexual harassment allegations were made against him by at least two women.
According to sources, the women did not work for the attorney general’s office when the allegations were made.
In a statement, Khan said that he was already planning on leaving the office and noted that he has not been accused of any harassment in the workplace.
The attorney general’s office says that when allegations first surfaced against Khan, they opted to hire an outside law firm on Oct. 4 to conduct an investigation. That firm, Littler Mendelson, substantiated at least one of those claims.
By law, outside contracts of more than $50,000 must go to the New York State Comptroller’s office for approval.
Jennifer Freeman, a spokesperson for State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli, said on Friday night that “There is no contract before us for approval.”
In an email response to NY1, Delaney Kempner, a spokesperson for the attorney general admitted that the contract had not gone to the comptroller’s office, saying, “Due to the time it takes for financial terms to be appropriately reviewed and approved, it is not unusual for Office of Attorney General to engage a firm for time sensitive matters with an engagement letter while financial terms are being reviewed.”
When asked if Khan had undergone mandatory sexual harassment training, as required by law for state employees, the attorney general’s office refused to say, or provide, any documentation showing he had.
Gov. Kathy Hochul was asked about the resignation at an untrained event in Rochester.
“I know there is a lot of information coming out about that situation," she said. "But number one, sexual harassment, especially in the workplace, must be condemned. Absolutely condemned. And we must make sure those responsible are held accountable. Those are my values.”
Questions about the investigation, and how the office handled it are a politically sensitive matter for James.
Her office hired outside counsel to investigate sexual harassment allegations against former Gov. Andrew Cuomo. That investigation concluded that Cuomo had sexually harassed 11 different women.
The bombshell 163-page report outlining those findings was released at a press conference in August 2021 by James, along with the outside counsel she had hired to conduct it. The report led to Cuomo’s resignation later that same month.
James said at the time that she believed the women who had accused Cuomo of misconduct. Cuomo and his staff claimed James had politicized the investigation.
In a statement, Republican Assembly Minority Leader Will Barclay said, “It’s true what they say about the coverup and the crime. These incidents and investigations of sexual harassment were intentionally hidden from the public, and now conveniently come out after Election Day. The attorney general’s office was investigating the governor for the same offenses being committed within her own office. It’s tough to match this level of hypocrisy.”
The ranking Republican on the State Senate Investigations Committee, Tom O’Mara, weighed in as well, saying, “The Attorney General is the chief law enforcement officer of the state and when she fails to enforce the law within her own office, it calls into question her fitness for the job. There must be an immediate, independent investigation about what she knew about these allegations, when she knew it, and if they were properly addressed.”
Democrats control both houses of the State Legislature, and so far no Democrats in either house have called for an investigation.
James ran for re-election as attorney general this past year.
She won her race against Republican Michael Henry on Nov. 8.