In a couple of news reports on Saturday, two former New York aides to the governor, Andrew Cuomo, accused him of sexual harassment, adding to a growing list of allegations that have prompted calls for Cuomo, a Democrat. , resign or even face impeachment. .
According to Ana Liss, Cuomo’s former policy and operations assistant from 2013 to 2015, the governor repeatedly asked about her personal life, touched her, and on one occasion even kissed her hand. Liss’s allegations were first reported by the Wall Street Journal, backed up by recollections from several anonymous former employees.
Separately, Karen Hinton, a former Cuomo aide who also worked with the now-governor as a consultant when he ran the New York Department of Housing and Urban Development, told the Washington Post on Saturday that Cuomo invited her to his hotel and asked him to. asked personal questions. about her marriage, and repeatedly held her in a way that was “too long, too long, too tight, too intimate” when she tried to leave.
“He pushes me back for another intimate hug,” Hinton told the Post of the encounter. “I thought at that point it could lead to a kiss, it could lead to other things, so I walk away again and go.”
Several people also confirmed to the Post that Hinton detailed the encounter to them shortly after it happened in 2000, with a friend saying that Hinton was “really scared. It really scared her. “
Cuomo’s office has dismissed both versions in statements to the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post, labeling Hinton as “a known antagonist of the Governor who is trying to seize this moment to score cheap points with fabricated allegations 21 years ago. “And stating that hugs and kisses, the behaviors that constitute alleged inappropriate and unwanted physical contact, are simply” what people do in politics. “
Liss and Hinton are far from the only former aides to accuse Cuomo of sexual harassment and misconduct. Both stories are supported by additional anonymous accounts of other people who have worked with or for Cuomo, including that of a federal official who told the Post that Cuomo kissed her on the cheek in front of colleagues shortly after she began working at HUD, and they are the fourth and fifth named accusers to emerge in recent weeks.
Previously, two other former aides, Lindsey Boylan, now a candidate for Manhattan Borough President, and Charlotte Bennett, accused Cuomo of sexual harassment. A third woman, Anna Ruch, who did not work at Cuomo, related that she met the governor at a friend’s wedding and says he tried to kiss her.
Ruch’s allegations are also backed by a Photo of the meeting. His story, as well as Bennett’s, was first reported by the New York Times. Boylan first accused Cuomo of misconduct in an essay published on Medium in February this year.
According to Bennett, Cuomo asked her about her sex life and if she was interested in older men, among other comments.
“I understood that the governor wanted to sleep with me and I felt terribly uncomfortable and scared,” Bennett told the Times of a June 5 meeting with Cuomo in his Albany office. “And I was wondering how I was going to get out of there and I assumed it was the end of my job.”
Cuomo is facing a series of misconduct allegations at this time.
In addition to a series of sexual harassment allegations, Cuomo also faces at least two other closely related scandals that have put his political career in jeopardy.
One revolves around his handling of the Covid-19 pandemic in New York: even though Cuomo took a stellar turn early in the crisis, when New York City was by far the hardest hit area in the country, New reports suggest that the Cuomo administration deliberately manipulated nursing home death statistics to cast New York’s response in a more favorable light and to protect the governor from criticism.
According to the New York Times, Cuomo’s aides, none of whom had public health experience, rewrote a report first produced by New York state health officials to eliminate a statistic that reveals how many nursing home residents died. because of the virus in the state.
Additionally, a report by New York Attorney General Letitia James found that the Cuomo administration initially underestimated those nursing home deaths by as much as 50 percent, according to the New York Times. After the attorney general’s report was released in late January, the state provided new data that increased the reported number of deaths in nursing homes in New York by more than 40 percent.
Cuomo’s response to the nursing home scandal has also become a scandal in its own right: In February, New York Assemblyman Ron Kim, who is also a Democrat, said that Cuomo allegedly threatened Kim’s career in politics for Kim’s criticism of Cuomo’s handling of the infirmary. New York home deaths, and comments Kim made to the New York Post detailing a call Cuomo’s assistant Melissa DeRosa had with lawmakers about the deaths.
“Governor Cuomo called me directly Thursday to threaten my career if I didn’t cover up for Melissa and what she said. He tried to pressure me to make a statement and it was a very traumatic experience, “Kim told CNN last month.
Kim also alleges that Cuomo told him: “We are in this business together and we did not cross certain lines, and he said that he had not seen his anger and that he could destroy me.”
Since then, Kim’s account has prompted the revelation of several other similar stories about Cuomo from New York politicians, which were reinforced by Saturday’s Washington Post story about Hinton.
According to the Post, Cuomo “was often consumed with anger and irritation towards [staffers], just to be nice and charming in their next interactions. They found the stark contrast deeply disorienting, with some saying that it even led to emotional breakdowns in their colleagues.
In the same story, Kim told the Washington Post that Cuomo’s behavior was a pattern.
“It feels untouchable,” Kim said of Cuomo. “Whether it’s verbal or physical abuse, or threatening legislators or journalists for doing his job, it has reached a level where it is so normalized that he doesn’t think twice about behaving that way.”
Cuomo says he’s going nowhere
Despite the growing and diverse set of misconduct allegations Cuomo faces, it’s unclear what the future holds. James, the New York attorney general, has launched an independent civil investigation into the sexual harassment allegations against Cuomo, and Saturday’s revelations could intensify pressure on the governor to resign of his own free will.
Already, at least one member of the New York Congressional delegation, Rep. Kathleen Rice, has asked Cuomo to resign.
And on Thursday, New York Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins indicated that she would also call for Cuomo’s resignation if further allegations of sexual harassment arise. Since then, two more women, Liss and Hinton, have officially accused Cuomo of sexual misconduct.
So far, however, Cuomo has resisted calls to resign, though he did issue something of an apology at a press conference on Wednesday.
“I have learned from what has been an incredibly difficult situation, for myself and others, and I have learned an important lesson,” Cuomo said Wednesday. “I’m sorry for the pain I caused someone. It was never my intention, and I will be the best for this experience. “
Even if Cuomo remains in office, the recent wave of scandals could undermine his political future in the state. He will run for re-election in 2022, if he chooses to seek a fourth term as New York governor, and as Politico points out, he could well face a difficult primary to claim the Democratic gubernatorial nomination.
“Whether he resigns or not, there will be no shortage of candidates in 2022,” an anonymous source told Politico of Cuomo’s plight. “Donors and consultants have started reaching out to potential candidates because they see the writing on the wall.”
Finally, Cuomo’s eventual political fate could have much broader implications for the Democratic Party: as Vox’s Anna North has written, “what happens next,” be it resignation, impeachment, or eventual repudiation in the primaries, “It will show how Democrats handle allegations of sexual misconduct against one of their own more than three years after the Me Too movement started making headlines.”