Andrew Cuomo Defenders Are Either Illiterate or Enablers
I’ve been seeing a lot of Democrats defend Andrew Cuomo against the sexual harassment and impropriety that forced him to resign. It’s the usual medley of “Look at this picture one of the accusers took with him!” and “He deserved due process!”
While not unexpected in this age of Al Franken, Joe Biden, and Donald Trump it’s still sad. Individual pictures do not negate sexual assault nor sexual harassment. As far as due process is concerned, Andrew Cuomo has received it in spades.
The New York State Attorney General Report on Andrew Cuomo
New York State Attorney General Letitia James investigated allegations of sexual harassment, and the result is a report running 165 pages, finding that 11 women told the truth. Investigators interviewed 179 people and looked at more than 70,000 pieces of evidence for this report, and it corroborates the stories of 11 women with contemporaneous texts they sent to friends and family, notes and emails sent by senior staffers. Here is the Executive Summary of the report:
We, the investigators appointed to conduct an investigation into allegations of sexual
harassment by Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, conclude that the Governor engaged in conduct
constituting sexual harassment under federal and New York State law. Specifically, we find that the Governor sexually harassed a number of current and former New York State employees by, among other things, engaging in unwelcome and nonconsensual touching, as well as making numerous offensive comments of a suggestive and sexual nature that created a hostile work environment for women. Our investigation revealed that the Governor’s sexually harassing behavior was not limited to members of his own staff, but extended to other State employees, including a State Trooper on his protective detail and members of the public. We also conclude that the Executive Chamber’s culture—one filled with fear and intimidation, while at the same time normalizing the Governor’s frequent flirtations and gender-based comments—contributed to the conditions that allowed the sexual harassment to occur and persist. That culture also influenced the improper and inadequate ways in which the Executive Chamber has responded to allegations of harassment.
The Accusers of Andrew Cuomo
Several women have come forward to accuse Andrew Cuomo of unwanted advances. Marlene Lenthang of ABC News details their allegations. Next to the accusers’ names is the age at the time of harassment.
Lindsey Boylan, 32
Boylan was the first to accuse Andrew Cuomo of sexual harassment and kissing her against her will. In December, she wrote a series of tweets sharing her allegations for the first time.
In February, Boylan expanded on the allegations in a Medium piece in which she accused Cuomo of acting inappropriately with her when she worked for the state’s economic development agency. Boylan said she first encountered the governor in January 2016 and her boss at the economic development agency informed her Cuomo had a “crush” on her. In October 2017, Boylan alleged that Cuomo invited her to play strip poker as they were on a government plane together.
One year later, Boylan said she was promoted to deputy secretary for economic development and special adviser to the governor, a position she initially turned down “because I didn’t want to be near him.” She ultimately accepted following Cuomo’s insistence. She also alleged that Cuomo kissed her on the lips without warning on one occasion in 2018 at his New York City office.
“As I got up to leave and walk toward an open door, he stepped in front of me and kissed me on the lips,” Boylan wrote. “I was in shock, but I kept walking.” She resigned in September of that year.
“There is a part of me that will never forgive myself for being a victim for so long, for trying to ignore behavior that I knew was wrong,” Boylan said. “The Governor exploited my weaknesses, my desire to do good work and to be respected. I was made to believe this was the world I needed to survive in. … It was all so normalized … that only now do I realize how insidious his abuse was.”
Charlotte Bennett, 23
Bennett came forward to share her account to the Times in a story published Feb. 27. She accused Cuomo of sexual harassment, alleging he asked questions about her sex life. Bennett, who was first hired by Cuomo’s administration in early 2019, worked as an executive assistant and health policy adviser until November when she left his office.
Bennett alleged that on June 5 she was alone with Cuomo in his state Capitol office when he allegedly asked her questions about her personal life that she interpreted as insinuating a sexual relationship. She claims he asked her if she thought age made a difference in romantic relationships, whether she was monogamous in her relationships and if she ever had sex with older men. In that June meeting, she said Cuomo made her uncomfortable when he allegedly complained about being lonely in the pandemic and said he “can’t even hug anyone” and asked, “Who did I last hug?”
“I understood that the governor wanted to sleep with me, and felt horribly uncomfortable and scared,” Bennett told the Times. “And I was wondering how I was going to get out of it and assumed it was the end of my job.”
She said she shared what happened with Cuomo’s chief of staff, Jill DesRosiers, and was transferred less than a week later to another job within the administration in a different part of the Capitol. She also said she gave a statement to a special counsel to the governor that same month. In the end, Bennett said she decided against pushing an investigation because she liked her new job and “wanted to move on.”
Anna Ruch, 31
The New York Times published an account of alleged misconduct from Ruch. Unlike Boylan and Bennett, she did not work with Cuomo.
She met him at a wedding reception in New York City in September 2019 and alleged Cuomo placed his hands on her bare lower back and face and “asked if he could kiss her.” She also shared a photo of the alleged incident with the paper.
She said the incident left her “uncomfortable and embarrassed” and she felt she “didn’t have a choice in that matter.” Cuomo ended up kissing her on the cheek, according to Ruch.
Karen Hinton, 41
Karen Hinton, a former press aide to Cuomo, claimed he behaved inappropriately with her when she worked as a consultant for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Her account was published by The Washington Post on March 6.
She claimed Cuomo, summoned her to his dimly lit hotel room in Los Angeles and told the Post he embraced her with a “too long, too tight, too intimate” hug after a work event in December 2000. Hinton, who was married at the time, claimed she pulled away from Cuomo, “but he pulled her back toward his body,” according to the Post. “I thought at that moment it could lead to a kiss, it could lead to other things, so I just pull away again, and I leave,” Hinton said to the Post.
Ana Liss was one of the women who publicly accused Cuomo earlier this year. She spoke to investigators about her experiences between 2013 and 2015. She described a toxic work environment with constant yelling from top aides, being treated like an ornament, told to wear heels, and told that Cuomo liked blondes.
Ana Liss, 27
Also in March, Ana Liss, who served as a policy and operations aide to Cuomo from 2013 to 2015, came forward with allegations against Cuomo that were published by The Wall Street Journal. She said the governor asked her if she had a boyfriend, called her sweetheart, touched her on her lower back at a reception and once kissed her hand as she rose from her desk.”It’s not appropriate, really, in any setting,” Liss said to the Journal.
Unknown Sixth Accuser
On March 9th, The Albany Times-Union reported that a sixth woman, a current member of the governor’s Executive Chamber staff, accused Cuomo of inappropriate conduct. The staffer, who has not been named, accused the governor of inappropriately touching her late last year during an encounter at the governor’s mansion after she had been summoned there to do work.
She had not filed a formal complaint with the governor’s office. Her claims were recently reported to the governor’s counsel by other Executive Chamber employees, the Times-Union reported.
On April 7, the female aide who alleged Cuomo groped her inside the Governor’s Mansion in November discussed the alleged incident with the Albany Times-Union. The woman, a current aide to the governor who’s remained anonymous, claimed Cuomo “groomed her” for two years with a pattern of tight hugs and kisses on the cheek.
She said that one time he said to her, “Oh, if you were single, the things that I would to do you,” she told the newspaper. The woman said to the paper that she was summoned to the mansion on a weekday in November last year to help Cuomo with an iPhone problem. When she reached his office on the second floor, he allegedly rose from his desk and groped her.
“That wasn’t just a hug,” she said. “He went for it and I kind of like was, ‘Oh, the door is right there.’ … I was mortified that a woman who works here is going to come in and see. … I was terrified of that happening, because that’s not who I am and that’s not what I’m here for.”
She said she told him, “You’re going to get us in trouble” and he allegedly proceeded to slam the door and said, “I don’t care” and he approached her a second time. This time he “reached under her blouse and his hand was grasping one of her breasts over her bra,” she said.
She said she didn’t remember telling him “stop,” but she did tell him, “You’re crazy,” which led him to finally stop. “It definitely was a hit to his ego,” she told the paper. “And then it was almost like instantly he was done. … He turned around and walked back to his desk. He didn’t say anything. I walked myself out to the front door and nothing was said.”
A month after the incident, he allegedly told her to stay silent about the encounter. She said she interpreted those comments as a threat. “I was a liability, and he knew that,” she said.
Jessica Bakeman, 25
Jessica Bakeman, who worked as a part of the Capitol press corp while working for Politico New York in 2014, accused Cuomo of behaving inappropriately with her in a first-person piece for The Cut published March 12. She claimed that during a 2014 holiday party at the Executive Mansion, Cuomo grabbed her hand and refused to let go.
Instead he “put his other arm around my back, his hand on my waist, and held me firmly in place while indicating to a photographer he wanted us to pose for a picture.” He allegedly said to her, “Am I making you uncomfortable? I thought we were going steady.” She was 25 at the time.
She wrote: “I never thought the governor wanted to have sex with me. It wasn’t about sex. It was about power. … He wanted me to know that he could take my dignity away at any moment with an inappropriate comment or a hand on my waist.”
“The way Cuomo operates is by daring women to make an impossible choice: endure his abuse silently or speak up and risk your career,” she added.
Valerie Bauman, 25
Alyssa McGrath, 33
Alyssa McGrath, 33, was the first current Cuomo employee to come forward. In a March 19 piece in The New York Times, she claimed Cuomo would ogle her body, remark on her looks, call her beautiful in Italian and make suggestive comments to both her and another executive aide.
She did not accuse the governor of making sexual contact with her, but she told the Times she believed his actions amounted to sexual harassment. McGrath said the anonymous current aide who accused Cuomo of groping her in the Executive Mansion, as reported by the Times-Union, described the encounter to her. She said the aide told her the governor asked her to not talk about the alleged incident.
Sherry Vill, 51
Another woman, Sherry Vill, 55, came forward on March 29 in a press conference with attorney Gloria Allred with allegations that the governor inappropriately touched and kissed her in 2017. Cuomo met with her during a tour of flood damage near her town in Greece, New York, Vill said. The governor took her by the hand, pulled her in and kissed her on both cheeks, Vill said.
“That’s what Italians do, kiss both cheeks,” the governor allegedly told Vill. Vill described the incident as being “manhandled” and called the encounter “uncomfortable.” She said that she was afraid to come forward sooner because she feared retaliation.
She said she was not pressing charges or filing suit for this incident but was planning to meet with the state attorney general to discuss the matter. Allred shared photos of Vill with Cuomo from the tour and a screenshot from a video where Cuomo appears to kiss Vill’s cheek.
Democrats Have Been Calling For Cuomo To Step Down
NBC New York noted that Andrew Cuomo has been under fire for most of the year, facing allegations on four fronts — sexual harassment of young women in his orbit, verbal harassment and threats against other politicians, safety issues with a bridge named for his father, and mishandling of the COVID epidemic in nursing homes.
Democrats in February and March at all levels of government called for the three-term governor and political scion to resign. Cries for Cuomo’s resignation quieted as investigations continued into the summer months and the governor refused to bow to pressure. However, following the report’s conclusion calls for Cuomo’s resignation and impeachment have taken center stage once again.
Here is a fairly comprehensive list of Democrats who called on Cuomo to step down after the Attorney General’s report:
- President Joe Biden called on Cuomo to resign, saying at a press conference that he stands by his previous statement from March in which he said the governor should step down if the AG’s investigation found the claims to be credible. When asked directly if he thinks Cuomo should resign, Biden replied bluntly “yes.”
- Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi also called for Cuomo’s resignation.
- The No. 2 Democrat in the House of Representatives, Democratic Whip Rep. Jim Clyburn, said Cuomo “ought to save himself and the state the agony” of an impeachment trial, and should resign before it reaches that stage.
- Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) spoke to cameras briefly outside of her Senate Russell office, reacting to the New York Attorney General’s report on Gov. Cuomo. Once again, Gillibrand reiterated that she believes Cuomo should resign. She called the report “deeply, deeply disturbing.”
- Democratic Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer would later release a joint statement with Gillibrand calling for his resignation.
- Representatives Hakeem Jeffries (NY-08), Thomas Suozzi (NY-03) and Gregory Meeks (NY-05) issued a joint statement calling on him to resign.
- U.S. Rep. Mondaire Jones made brief on camera remarks after an event. “This is, yet the latest piece in a really growing body of evidence that the governor is unfit to continue leading the state that we need new leadership,” Jones said.
- Governors Ned Lamont of Connecticut, Dan McKee of Rhode Island, Phil Murphy of New Jersey, and Tom Wolf of Pennsylvania — all of whom have worked closely with Cuomo since the start of the pandemic, Lamont and Murphy in particular — released a short yet powerful joint statement, stating that they are “appalled at the findings of the independent investigation by the New York Attorney General. Governor Cuomo should resign from office.”
- The leader of the state assembly, Democrat Carl Heastie, had originally resisted calling for Cuomo’s resignation, but changed his mind after the release of the report stating the Democratic majority no longer has confidence in Cuomo.
- New York State Democratic Party Chairman Jay S. Jacobs, a staunch Cuomo ally, called on Cuomo to resign, saying his removal from office is “clearly, inevitable.”
- New York State Sen. Brad Hoylman issued a statement, which said in part: “I’ve listened to Governor Cuomo’s pre-produced response that seemed to mock these serious and disturbing charges and shamefully called into question the truthfulness of the survivors. I reiterate my earlier call that Governor Cuomo resign. If not, I trust the State Assembly will take the appropriate steps to begin his removal from office.”
- New York State Sen. Todd Kaminsky, also voiced that Cuomo should step aside, saying that Cuomo “does not deserve to be the governor of New York” following the stunning revelations of the attorney general’s report.
- New York State Sen. Gustavo Rivera called for Cuomo’s impeachment if he does not resign.
- New York State Sen. James Skoufis also called for Cuomo to resign or face impeachment
- New York State Sen. John E. Brooks called for Cuomo to resign by “the end of the day.” (August 4th)
- In a brief statement, New York State Sen. James Sanders also called for Cuomo’s resignation.
- New York State Senator Pete Harckham said the governor and members of his staff involved in the coverup of the harassment must resign.
- New York State Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz called the findings in the report “nauseating and antithetical.” New York Assemblyman Kenneth P. Zebrowski called the findings “repugnant.”
- Assemblyman Kenny Burgos called on him to resign, and In a statement
- Assemblymember Ron Kim said that Cuomo is “wholly unfit to serve and must be removed from office immediately” calling for the impeachment process to begin.
- New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio released a statement asking Cuomo to step down.
- Democratic nominee for New York City mayor Eric Adams released a statement asking Cuomo to step down.
- Queens Borough President Donovan Richards Jr. released a statement asking Cuomo to step down.
- New York City Council Speaker Corey Johnson issued a statement commending the bravery of all the woman who came forward and calling for Cuomo to step down.
- Jumaane D. Williams, New York City Public Advocate, also called fort the governor to resign or face impeachment.
- Nassau County Executive Laura Curran said, “The Governor must resign immediately.”
- Westchester County Executive George Latimer also called for Cuomo to resign.
Impeachment of Andrew Cuomo and Beyond
New York state’s assembly has the power to start impeachment proceeding, much like Congress, which would then go to the state Senate for a trial. The New York State Assembly Judiciary Committee said it will hold hearings through the remainder of the month to review evidence against Cuomo as well as hear expert testimony surrounding sexual harassment and the standards for impeachment.
Deepa Shivaram of NPR notes how impeachment of a sitting governor in New York has only occurred once — William Sulzer, who was elected governor in 1912 and impeached in 1913 — so there is little precedent for the process. But in the aftermath of Cuomo’s resignation, lawmakers are weighing another aspect of impeachment: They could vote to make sure Cuomo is barred from running for office again.
Impeachment isn’t the only way Cuomo could still be held accountable. A criminal complaint by one of Cuomo’s aides who says the governor groped her has already been filed against him, and it’s possible he could still face civil claims as well, Michelle Simpson Tuegel, a women’s rights attorney, told NPR.
Melissa DeRosa has already resigned as Cuomo’s top aide. As secretary to the governor, DeRosa was the most powerful unelected bureaucrat in state government and stood loyally by Cuomo even through the sexual harassment scandal and allegations of undercounting nursing home deaths from COVID and the governor’s alleged use of state resources to write his book.
“The past two years have been emotionally and mentally trying,” DeRosa said in her resignation statement.
Given the number of accusers and their claims, the corroboration of their claims by an exhaustive and extensive report conducted by the New York State Attorney General, and the sheer volume of Democrats at the federal, state, and local level calling for his resignation or prosecution, I’m not quite sure what Andrew Cuomo’s defenders are holding onto. He has already resigned, and can look forward to possible impeachment along with civil and criminal inquiries to clear his “good name”. The only thing that can be concluded is that they have not read the AG report, or they support and condone the kind of behavior described within it because he’s a Democrat and/or Republicans do it too.