While questions remain about how New York Attorney General Letitia James handled the sexual harassment scandal involving her former chief of staff, there doesn’t seem to be much appetite to order an independent investigation.
After sitting for an exclusive interview Wednesday night on “Inside City Hall,” James seems to have the support of fellow Democratic leaders who dismissed calls from critics to appoint an independent investigator.
“I’ve been reading some of the stories,” Mayor Eric Adams said Thursday. “I don’t think I know a better advocate for women than Tish James. Tish James is a real voice for women in leadership. And I think she is extremely capable of investigating.”
Last Friday it was reported that James’s longtime chief of staff, Ibrahim Khan, had been accused of sexual harassment. Initially, the attorney general’s office would not provide any details about an investigation that led to his resignation on Nov. 22.
But over several days, pieces of information were given to the press demonstrating that James had hired an outside law firm to investigate shortly after she learned of the allegations.
“There was an investigation,” Democratic Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie said Thursday. “There was a finding. I think these things are constant learning. It should be a constant learning experience. Always ways to do things in a better and more efficient way, I’m sure. On the surface at least, I don’t see anything that rises to the level of an investigation of the investigation.”
Sofia Quintanar, one of the women who accused Khan of forcibly kissing and touching, told the New York Times that she felt the investigation was mishandled and that James was too concerned about protecting Khan.
“I have concerns with how the office has handled everything after the investigation,” said Erica Vladimir, co-founder of the Sexual Harassment Working Group. “I think it’s important to recognize that privacy is a pillar that must be upheld during a private or even public investigation.”
Prior to James’s sit down interview, Gov. Kathy Hochul told reporters she thinks proper procedures were followed by the attorney general’s office.
“We must be clear in condemning sexual harassment wherever it arises. There needs to be accountability. And it’s my understanding that steps were taken for that,” Hochul said.
James was re-elected just last month, so most Democrats don’t believe she will suffer much political fallout. The equation could change if more women come forward with allegations.