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Cuomo’s Office Denies Using Private Email Accounts. But it Does.

Aides to the governor have used private accounts, which can help hide communications on public business, despite state rules barring the practice.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo (Spencer Platt/Getty)

In a previously unreported response to a public records request, the office of Gov. Andrew Cuomo claims staff do not use private email accounts for official business. Yet as we’ve reported, aides to the governor have done just that.

The Cuomo administration’s assertion came after the New York Times requested emails related to official business from the personal email accounts of several top Cuomo aides.

In its response this past March, Cuomo’s office issued a blanket denial: Staffers “do not use their personal email accounts for government business.”

 

 

We obtained the Times’ request, and the response of the governor’s office, through our own public records request.

Using personal email accounts can help officials hide communications that are supposed to be available to the public. It also violates New York state’s technology policy unless it is explicitly authorized.

As we detailed in May, I was the recipient of an email regarding state business from the personal account of Cuomo aide Howard Glaser. Several people who communicate with the governor’s office on media or policy matters told me at the time they, too, had gotten emails from personal accounts of Cuomo aides. Others told me the same thing after the publication of our story. None wanted to be named.

A spokesman for the governor’s office declined to comment on the administration’s insistence that staffers don’t use personal emails to conduct public business – or on the evidence to the contrary.

The Times was seeking emails from personal accounts of Cuomo aides including Glaser and secretary to the governor Larry Schwartz.

Underscoring the Cuomo camp’s penchant for secrecy, another aide reportedly encouraged other government officials to use personal email accounts for politically sensitive communications.

That episode, reported by the Albany Times Union, came last week after revelations of Cuomo aides meddling with the Moreland Commission’s investigation of public corruption.

According to the Times Union, longtime Cuomo aide Joseph Percoco recruited members of the commission to issue statements saying they had been independent of the governor’s office. Percoco reportedly encouraged some of those he contacted “to communicate with him through private email messages rather than through their government email accounts.”

Spokesmen for the governor’s office and Cuomo’s campaign committee declined to comment on the Times Union’s story.

If you have gotten emails from the private account of an official in the governor’s office or other state or city agencies, email me at justin@propublica.org.

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