WEOS Finger Lakes Public Radio

Karen DeWitt

Karen DeWitt is Capitol Bureau Chief for New York State Public Radio, a network of 10 public radio stations in New York State. She has covered state government and politics for the network since 1990.

She is also a regular contributor to the statewide public television program about New York State government, New York Now. She appears on the reporter’s roundtable segment, and interviews newsmakers. 

Karen previously worked for WINS Radio, New York, and has written for numerous publications, including Adirondack Life and the Albany newsweekly Metroland.

She is a past recipient of the prestigious Walter T. Brown Memorial award for excellence in journalism, from the Legislative Correspondents Association, and was named Media Person of the Year for 2009 by the Women’s Press Club of New York State.

Karen is a graduate of the State University of New York at Geneseo.

The New York State Legislature took another step this week in its impeachment investigation of Gov. Andrew Cuomo when the Assembly announced it’s hired a private law firm to assist the Judiciary Committee in its inquiry.

But that choice was immediately condemned by a lawyer for one of the alleged victims, who said the firm has ties to Cuomo that could taint the investigation.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo forged ahead with a normal schedule Wednesday, leading a campaign-style rally and publicly receiving the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine at a Harlem church.

Cuomo’s actions come amid stronger statements from President Joe Biden and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi about his political future and a sexual harassment scandal.

The governor said he wanted to receive the Johnson & Johnson vaccine at a pop-up site at a Black church in Harlem to help combat vaccine hesitancy among some in the African American community.  

The growing calls for Gov. Andrew Cuomo to resign amid multiple allegations of sexual harassment and a nursing home scandal have focused attention on the state’s second-in-command, Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul.

Hochul is not exactly a household name around New York state. The lieutenant governor, in her sixth year in office, has stayed in the shadows, compared to the attention-seeking Andrew Cuomo.

Until recently, her most notable public appearances have been to introduce the governor at the annual State of the State speech and talk up his agenda.

New York State Senate Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins said Tuesday that she’s determined to steer the Senate through budget negotiations with Gov. Andrew Cuomo even though the governor has ignored her calls for him to resign over a sexual harassment scandal. 

Stewart-Cousins and most of the majority-party Democrats in the chamber have called for Cuomo to leave after multiple women alleged that he sexually harassed them or behaved inappropriately.

A new Siena College poll out Monday offers some hope for the political survival of Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who has seen most elected Democrats in New York call for his resignation over sexual harassment and nursing home scandals.

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie said Monday that he expects state budget negotiations to continue as “normal,” despite his decision to authorize an impeachment inquiry of Gov. Andrew Cuomo over several women’s allegations of sexual harassment, as well as a nursing home scandal.  

Heastie said he will announce later in the week the Assembly’s choice of an outside law firm to aid the Judiciary Committee in carrying out the impeachment probe. But he said he expects budget talks between the Legislature and the governor to go on as planned.

A sixth woman has come forward and accused New York Governor Andrew Cuomo of misconduct. The Albany Times Union reports that the woman says Cuomo inappropriately touched her when she was summoned to the executive mansion for a work assignment.

Cuomo, on a late afternoon conference call with reporters over one hour after the latest allegations were published said he had not heard about them.

“ I’m not aware of any other claim,” Cuomo said.

The federal pandemic relief package moving through Congress would go a long way toward filling New York’s multibillion-dollar budget deficit. But Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the State Legislature would still need to plug a smaller gap.

Getting there could be tricky, with Cuomo embroiled in two scandals, the Democratic leader of the state Senate calling for the governor’s resignation, and Republicans pushing for impeachment.

New York State Senate Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins is calling on Gov. Andrew Cuomo to resign and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie said the governor should consider voluntarily stepping down after two new allegations of inappropriate behavior from more women over the weekend.

But Cuomo said he has no plans to voluntarily leave office and has too much important work to do to let the accusations “distract” him.

New York state legislative leaders have announced agreement on a bill to curb Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s emergency powers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The measure comes as Cuomo is embroiled in two scandals:  One over his nursing home policies during the health crisis, and another over accusations that he sexually harassed former staffers.