Two more former aides to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo have told the press that he sexually harassed them, and leaders in the state assembly are calling for his resignation.
Ana Liss, a former Cuomo aide, told the Wall Street Journal that the governor made inappropriate remarks and touched her when she served as a policy and operations aide from 2013-2015. Liss said that Cuomo also made “patronizing” comments, including referring to her as “sweetheart.” He would also ask her whether she had a boyfriend and once kissed her on the hand as she stood up from her desk, she said. And she described an incident where Cuomo kissed both her cheeks, put his arm on her lower back and grabbed her waist at a public event.
Karen Hinton, a former Cuomo press aide, told the Washington Post that in 2000, the governor ordered her to his hotel room, where he had dimmed the lights, after a work event. After the two spoke for a while, Hinton said Cuomo embraced her. The hug, she said, was “very long, too long, too tight, too intimate.” When she attempted to leave, he pulled her back to him.
“He pulls me back for another intimate embrace,” she said. “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.”
Three additional women told the Post that Cuomo often asked about their dating lives, which they say was part of an office culture they viewed as “degrading to women.”
Cuomo continues to deny the allegations. A spokesman for the governor said the incidents the women describe “did not happen” and excused the governor physically touching women by saying it is just part of the job. “Reporters and photographers have covered the governor for 14 years watching him kiss men and women and posing for pictures,” said Rich Azzopardi, a senior advisor to Cuomo, denying Liss’s allegations. “At the public open-house mansion reception, there are hundreds of people, and he poses for hundreds of pictures. That’s what people in politics do.”
And a Cuomo spokesperson denied Hinton’s allegations as well, saying she is a “known antagonist of the governor’s who is attempting to take advantage of this moment to score cheap points with made-up allegations from 21 years ago. All women have the right to come forward and tell their story — however, it’s also the responsibility of the press to consider self-motivation. This is reckless.”
The accusations against the governor, which began when former aide Lindsey Boylan wrote an essay on Medium about Cuomo’s sexual advances inappropriate behavior when she worked for him, combined with recent scandals surrounding erroneous reporting of Covid-19 nursing home deaths, have prompted New York State Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins to call for Cuomo’s resignation.
“Every day, there is another account that is drawing away from the business of government. We have allegations about sexual harassment, a toxic work environment, the loss of credibility surrounding the Covid-19 nursing home data and questions about the construction of a major infrastructure project,” Stewart-Cousins said in a statement, adding, “We need to govern without daily distraction. Governor Cuomo must resign.”
The Republican state senate minority leader, Will Barlay, also said in a statement the governor should resign: “In the wake of mounting sexual harassment allegations and a potentially criminal nursing home cover-up, Andrew Cuomo has offered excuses, explanations and half-hearted apologies. He must now offer his immediate resignation.”
The governor attempted to apologize for his actions with women in a press conference on Wednesday. “It was unintentional, and I truly and deeply apologize for it,” he said. “I feel awful about it and, frankly, I am embarrassed.”
But Hinton told the Post that watching the press conference “drove me crazy.” And when she learned that the governor was denying her story as well, she said, “Attacking the accuser is the classic playbook of powerful men trying to protect themselves.”