Bad news continued to mount Thursday for embattled New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who is under investigation both for multiple accusations of sexual misconduct and for mishandling nursing homes during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Fifty-nine state legislators called on the three-term governor to resign Thursday after a sixth account emerged: The Albany Times-Union, citing a source with direct knowledge, reported that an aide said Cuomo groped her at the governor’s mansion in Albany last year. Cuomo denied the charge while calling the details of the allegation “gut-wrenching.”
The 59 state legislators, all Democrats like Cuomo, said the evidence had become insurmountable.
“In light of the Governor’s admission of inappropriate behavior and the findings of altered data on nursing home COVID-19 deaths he has lost the confidence of the public and the state legislature, rendering him ineffective in this time of most urgent need,” a letter from the legislators said. “It is time for Governor Cuomo to resign.” The New York State Assembly is reportedly forming a committee, with subpoena power, to investigate Cuomo.
On Thursday, the New York Times reported that the latest accusation had been referred to the Albany Police. A police spokesperson clarified that did not necessarily mean a formal investigation into the governor had been opened, but that the department has offered its services to the alleged sixth victim, “as we would do with any other report or incident.”
In addition to the dozens of state legislators, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, a Democrat, on Thursday also called for the resignation of his longtime rival.
"The specific allegation that the governor called an employee of his, someone who he had power over, called them to a private place and then sexually assaulted her, it's absolutely unacceptable," de Blasio told reporters. "It is disgusting to me, and he can no longer serve as governor."
On Sunday, New York Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins called on Cuomo to resign after the fifth accuser’s story was published in the Wall Street Journal.
"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. "New York is still in the midst of this pandemic and is still facing the societal, health and economic impacts of it. We need to govern without daily distraction. For the good of the state, Gov. Cuomo must resign."
State Attorney General Letitia James’s office is leading an independent investigation into the allegations. Cuomo has said he will not resign and urged New Yorkers to wait for the results of the probe at a briefing last week. He also apologized and said he had never touched anyone inappropriately.
“I never knew at the time that I was making anyone feel uncomfortable, and I certainly never, ever meant to offend anyone or hurt anyone or cause anyone any pain,” Cuomo said. “That is the last thing I would ever want to do.”
“I do not believe I have ever done anything in my public career that I am ashamed of,” he added.
The first allegations arose in late February, when two women accused Cuomo of misconduct. Lindsey Boylan, who served as an aide to the governor and is now a candidate for Manhattan borough president, said he had created “a culture within his administration where sexual harassment and bullying is so pervasive that it is not only condoned but expected. His inappropriate behavior toward women was an affirmation that he liked you, that you must be doing something right. He used intimidation to silence his critics. And if you dared to speak up, you would face consequences.” Boylan also detailed an incident in which the governor gave her an unsolicited kiss on the lips.
Charlotte Bennett, another former aide, said he repeatedly asked her inappropriate questions, including if Bennett, 25, considered age a factor in her sexual relationships. Cuomo is 63.
“I understood that the governor wanted to sleep with me, and felt horribly uncomfortable and scared,” Bennett said. “And was wondering how I was going to get out of it and assumed it was the end of my job.” Four more women have come forward since Bennett’s allegations, including more former aides.
Cuomo was first elected governor in 2010. Prior to holding his current position, he served as the state’s attorney general and as secretary of housing and urban development under President Bill Clinton. Cuomo’s father, Mario, was also a three-term governor of New York. His brother, Chris, is a CNN anchor.
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