ALBANY – A recently departed Cuomo administration official, who had previously been disciplined by the state Assembly for having a relationship with an intern, is the subject of a sexual harassment investigation with another woman, the governor’s office said Tuesday afternoon.
Sam Hoyt, 55, who abruptly resigned as the regional president of the state’s economic development agency in Buffalo Monday, is under two separate investigations by the state’s Joint Commission on Public Ethics and the Inspector General’s Office, Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office said.
The investigation was prompted by a relationship the longtime Cuomo ally had with a former state employee, who worked in another office, which eventually soured, according to The Buffalo News. The women allegedly breached a confidential settlement agreement to come forward with the allegations this week.
The 51-year-old woman who filed the complaint with the Governor’s Office of Employee Relations in late 2016, according to the governor’s office, told The Buffalo News this week that she and Hoyt, a former assemblyman, were in a relationship. The woman told the news organization that when she attempted to end the relationship last year, Hoyt allegedly inappropriately grabbed her. According to The Buffalo News report, Hoyt made a $50,000 settlement including a confidentiality clause with the woman in October 2016 , in exchange for her silence about their relationship. But after seeing all of the praise Hoyt, who is married, received after his departure from Empire State Development this week, she decided to speak to The Buffalo News.
“I’m upset that he could walk away and everybody is saying how great he is,” she was quoted in the newspaper as saying. “And I’m upset that no one from the state returned my calls and now all of a sudden everybody does. That is mind blowing to me.”
Terrence Connors of Connors LLP in Buffalo confirmed to the New York Law Journal that he “represented Sam in the negotiation of a voluntary settlement agreement that contained a confidentiality clause.” Connors did not immediately respond when asked if Hoyt was considering legal action against the woman for violating the confidentiality clause.
In a statement to The Buffalo News, Hoyt claimed that the relationship was “consensual and inappropriate.”
“When I attempted to end the relationship she threatened me. At that point, over a year ago, my wife and I agreed to a settlement to avoid public embarrassment to our family,” Hoyt said.
According to the governor’s office, a state employee who did not work for the same state agency as Hoyt filed a complaint with the Governor’s Office of Employee Relations late last year against the Democrat, which was then referred to the Inspector General’s Office for further review. A spokeswoman for Cuomo said all state employees “must act with integrity and respect.”
“At the same time Mr. Hoyt was instructed to have no further interaction with the complainant and to cooperate fully with the investigation,” said Dani Lever, a spokeswoman for the governor. “Based on interviews and evidence reviewed, GOER identified information that warranted further review by the Inspector General’s Office and referred the matter accordingly. The IG conducted its own investigation, during which repeated attempts to interview the complainant were unsuccessful, and the matter was referred to JCOPE for investigation. With the investigation still pending, Mr. Hoyt separated from state service.”
After the initial complaint was filed with GOER, Hoyt’s job responsibilities at the development agency were scaled back, according to a person familiar with the matter but not authorized to speak publicly.
This isn’t the first time Hoyt’s been in the news for having inappropriate relationships. In 2008, Hoyt was sanctioned by then-Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver over a relationship the former assemblyman had with a 23-year-old Assembly intern. Hoyt was banned from participating in the Assembly’s internship or student mentoring program. The affair with the intern started before the Assembly put in place a 2004 policy barring fraternization with student interns, therefore Hoyt maintained that no rules or laws were broken.