The latest on NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo: Allegations of sexual harassment, hiding nursing home COVID-19 deaths

Written by on March 1, 2021

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New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is beneath hearth after two former aides went public with sexual harassment claims towards him. USA TODAY

Gov. Andrew Cuomo, whose political future appeared golden 11 months in the past, is now preventing for survival after two former aides accused him of sexual harassment, a 3rd girl accused him of constructing an undesirable advance and his administration acknowledged withholding information on COVID-19 nursing residence deaths.

The New York governor, now in his third time period, faces investigations into each scandals and a rising checklist of critics that features Republicans in addition to lots of his fellow Democrats. He had resisted ceding management of the sexual harassment inquiry, however he relented beneath stress and referred the matter to New York Lawyer Basic Letitia James on Sunday.

The identical day, he issued a public apology by which he stated was “actually sorry” if “a number of the issues I’ve stated have been misinterpreted as an undesirable flirtation.”

This is a rundown of the allegations towards Cuomo, how he has responded and the place the investigations stand.

First accuser: Lindsey Boylan

Lindsey Boylan, Cuomo’s former deputy secretary of financial growth and particular adviser, wrote a 1,700-word post on the website Medium final week by which she stated she was subjected to undesirable advances by Cuomo throughout her almost two years working for the administration.

She stated that on one event, the governor requested her if she needed to play “strip poker” whereas they had been touring on a state-owned aircraft, and on one other, he gave her an undesirable kiss on the lips as she was leaving his workplace.

Boylan, 36,first made the allegations on Twitter in December, however the story gained little nationwide consideration on the time amid then-President Donald Trump’s efforts to problem the outcomes of the Nov. three election.

Second accuser: Charlotte Bennett

In her Medium publish, Boylan alleged Cuomo had “created a tradition inside his administration the place sexual harassment and bullying is so pervasive that it’s not solely condoned however anticipated.” And on Saturday, a second accuser got here ahead to help that characterization.

Charlotte Bennett, 25, a former aide who left the Cuomo administration in November, tweeted, “For these questioning what it’s prefer to work for the Cuomo admin, learn @LindseyBoylan’s story.”

In a narrative that ran Saturday, Bennett told The New York Times that Cuomo, 63, had made her uncomfortable with questions on her intercourse life, whether or not she would think about relationship an older man and a remark that he could be keen to have a relationship “with anybody above the age of 22.”

“I understood that the governor needed to sleep with me, and felt horribly uncomfortable and scared,” Bennett informed The Occasions.

Third accuser: Anna Ruch

Thirty-three-year-old Ruch stated Cuomo made an unwanted advance at a New York City wedding in September 2019, the primary time she had met him. 

She informed The New York Times on Monday that Cuomo positioned his hand on her decrease again, which was uncovered. She then eliminated his hand, she stated, and Cuomo grabbed her face with each arms and requested if he might kiss her. She then pulled away.

“I used to be so confused and shocked and embarrassed,”  Ruch informed the Occasions, which included a photograph of the second Cuomo had his arms on Ruch’s face in its reporting. “I turned my head away and didn’t have phrases in that second.”

Cuomo’s preliminary responses to harassment allegations

When Boylan first got here ahead in December, Cuomo stated that “the tweets had been merely not true.”

“Look, I fought for and I consider a lady has a proper to return ahead and categorical her opinion and categorical points and considerations that she has, nevertheless it’s simply not true,” he stated.

The governor’s workplace repeated his denial after Boylan’s publish on Medium final week and launched a press release from 4 present and former aides who stated they might have been on the October 2017 flight the place Cuomo allegedly introduced up strip poker.

“We had been on every of those October flights and this dialog didn’t occur,” they stated.

After Bennett spoke to The Occasions, Cuomo stated in a press release: “I by no means made advances towards Ms. Bennett nor did I ever intend to behave in any manner that was inappropriate. The very last thing I might ever have needed was to make her really feel any of the issues which might be being reported.”

Cuomo apologizes for ‘misinterpreted’ feedback

On Sunday, Cuomo apologized for any habits that offended anybody, with out addressing any particular claims towards him apart from a imprecise reference to questions that “have been raised about a few of my previous interactions with individuals within the workplace.”

“At work generally I feel I’m being playful and make jokes that I feel are humorous. I do, every now and then, tease individuals in what I feel is an effective natured manner. I do it in public and in personal. You could have seen me do it at briefings tons of of occasions,” Cuomo stated in his assertion. “I’ve teased individuals about their private lives, their relationships, about getting married or not getting married. I imply no offense and solely try so as to add some levity and banter to what’s a really severe enterprise.

Cuomo stated he now realized that he “might have been insensitive or too private and that a few of my feedback, given my place, made others really feel in methods I by no means meant.”

“I acknowledge a number of the issues I’ve stated have been misinterpreted as an undesirable flirtation. To the extent anybody felt that manner, I’m actually sorry about that,” he stated.

Extra: As scandals engulf Andrew Cuomo, candidates eye 2022 run for governor

‘That is not an apology’

Many discovered the governor’s effort to apologize missing, together with Bennett, who criticized his apology on Monday.

“The governor has refused to acknowledge or take accountability for his predatory habits,” Bennett stated by her legal professional.

“As we all know, abusers — significantly these with great quantities of energy — are sometimes repeat offenders who have interaction in manipulative techniques to decrease allegations, blame victims, deny wrongdoing and escape penalties,” she stated.

New York Metropolis Mayor Invoice de Blasio stated that together with his assertion, Cuomo appeared as if he was “letting himself off the hook.”

“That’s not an apology,” de Blasio stated in a information convention Monday, including that Cuomo “appeared to be saying he was simply kidding round.”

“Sexual harassment isn’t humorous,” he stated.

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New York Metropolis Mayor Invoice de Blasio says Governor Andrew Cuomo must take the allegations of sexual harrassment made towards him severely.(March 1) AP Home

Democratic state Sen. Mike Gianaris stated that slightly than apologize, Cuomo seemed to be “shifting the blame onto the survivors.”

“There is a large distinction between ‘I am sorry for those who had been offended by what I did’ and ‘I am sorry for what I did,'” Gianaris told NY1.

NY legal professional common to choose unbiased investigator

Cuomo initially resisted calls to refer the sexual harassment allegations to James so the legal professional common might grant an unbiased investigator subpoena energy. As a substitute, he proposed it’s directed by former U.S. District Decide Barbara Jones, who as soon as labored as a associate in a regulation agency with one in every of Cuomo’s closest advisers.

The proposal was met with accusations that Cuomo was making an attempt to regulate the investigation, which state and federal lawmakers insisted needs to be unbiased. The White Home even weighed in, with press secretary Jen Psaki telling CNN “there needs to be an unbiased overview wanting into these allegations.”

Cuomo subsequent proposed the investigator be collectively chosen by James and Chief Decide Janet DiFiore, whom he appointed. However after James flatly rejected the concept and criticism mounted, Cuomo agreed to provide James sole authority to pick out who will conduct the probe.

COVID-19 nursing residence deaths

Cuomo’s administration is already going through a federal investigation for its dealing with of COVID-19 in nursing houses earlier than the decision for an investigation into the sexual harassment allegations.

The federal investigation was launched after high aide Melissa DeRosa acknowledged holding back key death data and data from lawmakers and the general public after receiving an inquiry from the U.S. Division of Justice final yr.

Slightly below a yr in the past, Cuomo’s every day press briefings throughout the first weeks of the COVID-19 outbreak within the U.S. introduced requires him to launch a late entry into the crowded Democratic presidential main. 

However the state’s acknowledged undercounting of nursing residence deaths from the coronavirus and the scrutiny over an order March 25 to permit nursing residence residents in hospitals to return residence with COVID-19 has put his political future in jeopardy. 

Extra: Cuomo was a national star for COVID response. Nursing home deaths upended that.

The political fallout 

Final April, a Siena College poll put Cuomo’s job efficiency ranking at a excessive of 71% constructive to 28% damaging.

Final week, a Marist College poll confirmed 49% of New Yorkers approve of the job Cuomo is doing as governor, and 44% say they do not approve.

That was earlier than the most recent sexual harassment allegations had been revealed.

Gianaris, the No. 2 Democrat within the New York Senate, informed NY1 on Monday that amid the scandals roiling his administration, “whether or not or not the governor can proceed is an open query.” 

Cuomo has indicated he might seek a fourth term as governor. However now, not solely is his skill to win one other time period in query, however he additionally faces some calls from inside his personal occasion for his resignation or even impeachment

“You’re a monster, and it’s time so that you can go. Now,” tweeted Democratic state Sen. Alessandra Biaggi on Saturday. 

Even earlier than the sexual harassment allegations made headlines, Democratic Assemblyman Ron Kim, who says Cuomo threatened to destroy his profession over his criticism of the nursing residence deaths, wrote an op-ed for Newsweek on Feb. 22 titled “It is Time to Impeach Andrew Cuomo.” 

Contributing: Joseph Spector and Jon Campbell, USA TODAY Community’s New York State Workforce

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