New allegations emerge concerning New York Governor’s behavior

“Andrew Cuomo” by shinya is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0

In less than a year, Governor Andrew Cuomo, (D-N.Y.) has gone from being widely praised and talked about as a potential Democratic presidential nominee in 2024, if President Biden elected not to run again, to facing calls to resign from senior Democratic lawmakers in Albany and Washington. 

The three term governor’s fall has been ensnared in interlocking crises – including a federal probe into underreporting of COVID-19 deaths in New York’s nursing homes. A major catalyst for this abrupt shift are the allegations made against him regarding sexual assault, sexual harassment and creating a toxic workplace environment, particularly for young women. 

So far, at least seven women came forward with specific allegations of harassment, misconduct or other inappropriate behavior by Cuomo, and that he took advantage of an unbalanced power dynamic. These accusers include at least five people who were employed by the state or by the governor at the time they allege the misconduct took place. 

The accusers include Lindsay Boylan, Anna Liss, Kate Hinton, Anna Ruch, Jessica Bakeman and Charlotte Bennett. Bennett, Boylan, Liss, and Hinton all worked with the governor in some capacity during their jobs. Bakeman interacted with Cuomo as a reporter in Albany. Ruch’s encounter with the governor occurred at a wedding that she attended. 

An additional group of former employees and aides contacted by the Washington Post have recounted experiences with a work environment that was toxic, especially for young women working for Cuomo.

An independent investigation into the allegations has been set up under the oversight of New York Attorney General, Letitia James (D). James has appointed two experienced lawyers, Joon Kim and Anne Clark, to spearhead the investigation. Kim is a former prosecutor in the U.S. Southern District of New York while Clark has experience in employment discrimination cases. 

Faced with multiple, detailed allegations, Cuomo – long known for his abrasive and imperious style – has found allies in short supply in Albany and in Washington. 

Most of New York’s congressional delegation, including prominent and powerful legislators such as U.S. Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer, House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand – the first senator to call for Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) to resign when sexual harassment allegations emerged about him – have all called for Cuomo to resign, saying he has lost the ability to govern effectively. 

President Biden declined to call for Cuomo’s immediate resignation, preferring to wait on the results of the investigation. He did express support for the women coming forward with accusations and their right to a serious investigation.  

Additionally, Biden observed that if the investigation proved the allegations were accurate he would support Cuomo’s resignation and expect him to be prosecuted. 

Meanwhile, more perilous to Cuomo’s immediate prospects, Democratic leaders in the state’s Democratic-run State Legislature have signaled a rupture with him. Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie has not called for Cuomo to resign yet, though he has condemned the governor. New York Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins has, however, called for Cuomo to resign. 

Heastie is also in the spotlight as the Assembly’s Judiciary Committee begins to pursue an impeachment inquiry into Cuomo.  

More than a majority of the State Legislature has expressed support for the governor’s resignation, including a large number of Democrats in the Assembly. 

Still, the governor has remained defiant and resisted calls to resign. Cuomo denied all the allegations, urging New Yorkers to await the findings of James’ independent investigation. He accused those calling for his resignation of being motivated by political agendas and score-settling. 

Cuomo may have received a boost on March 15, when a new Siena College poll found that a majority of New Yorkers do not support his immediate resignation.

Though the situation remains fluid, in recent days Democratic opposition to moving forward with impeachment prior to the conclusion of James’ report has solidified. Given Cuomo’s determination to not resign, it appears that the investigation’s findings may be determinative in what comes next for Cuomo and his ambitions for a fourth term.


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