- Two more women accuse New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo of sexual harassment
- Cuomo is facing a flurry of misconduct allegations right now
- Cuomo says he isn’t going anywhere
- Andrew Cuomo
- New York Governor
- Second and Third Terms
- Coronavirus Response
- Nursing Home Scandal
- Sexual Harassment Claims
- Personal Life and Wife
Two more women accuse New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo of sexual harassment
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks at a news conference in September 2020 in New York City. Spencer Platt/Getty Images
In a pair of news reports Saturday, two more former aides to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo accused him of sexual harassment, a development that led New York state Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins to join calls for Cuomo, a Democrat, to resign.
“For the good of the state Governor Cuomo must resign,” Stewart-Cousins, also a Democrat, said in a statement Sunday.
As of Sunday, five women have come forward to accuse Cuomo of sexual harassment.
Most recently, Ana Liss, a former policy and operations aide to Cuomo from 2013 to 2015, told the Wall Street Journal the governor repeatedly inquired about her personal life, touched her, and on one occasion even kissed her hand. According to the Journal, Liss’s allegations were backed by recollections from multiple anonymous former staffers.
Separately, Karen Hinton — a former Cuomo aide who also worked with the now-governor as a consultant when he led the New York Department of Housing and Urban Development — told the Washington Post in a piece published Saturday that Cuomo invited her to his hotel, asked her personal questions about her marriage, and hugged her repeatedly in a manner that was “very long, too long, too tight, too intimate” when she attempted to leave.
“He pulls me back for another intimate embrace,” Hinton told the Post of the encounter. “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.”
Multiple people also confirmed to the Post that Hinton detailed the encounter to them shortly after it occurred in 2000, with one friend stating that Hinton was “really creeped out. It really freaked her out.”
Cuomo’s office has dismissed both accounts in statements to the Wall Street Journal and to the Washington Post, casting Hinton as “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” and claiming that hugs and kisses — the behaviors that make up the alleged inappropriate and unwanted physical contact — are just “what people in politics do.”
Liss and Hinton are far from the only former aides to accuse Cuomo of sexual harassment and misconduct.
Both stories are backed by additional anonymous accounts from others who have worked with or for Cuomo — including that of a federal official who told the Post Cuomo kissed her on the cheek in front of colleagues shortly after she began work 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 with Cuomo, recounted meeting the governor at a friend’s wedding, and says he attempted to kiss her.
Ruch’s allegations are also backed by a photo of the encounter. Her story, as well as Bennett’s, was first reported by the New York Times. Boylan first accused Cuomo of misconduct in an essay posted to Medium in February this year.
According to Bennett, Cuomo asked her about her sex life and whether she was interested in older men, among other comments.
“I understood that the governor wanted to sleep with me, and felt horribly uncomfortable and scared,” Bennett told the Times of a June 5 encounter with Cuomo in his Albany office. “And was wondering how I was going to get it and assumed it was the end of my job.”
Cuomo is facing a flurry of misconduct allegations right now
In addition to a slew of sexual harassment allegations, Cuomo is also facing at least two other closely linked scandals that have left his political career in jeopardy.
One revolves around his handling of the Covid-19 pandemic in New York: Despite a star turn for Cuomo early in the crisis, when New York City was far and away the hardest-hit area of 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 shield the governor from criticism.
According to the New York Times, Cuomo aides — none of whom had a background in public health — rewrote a report first produced by New York state health officials to remove a statistic revealing how many nursing home residents died from the virus in the state.
Additionally, a report by New York Attorney General Letitia James found that the Cuomo administration initially undercounted 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 nursing home deaths in New York by more than 40 percent.
Cuomo’s response to the nursing home scandal has also spun off into a scandal in its own right: In February, New York Assembly member Ron Kim, who is also a Democrat, said Cuomo allegedly threatened Kim’s career in politics over his criticism of Cuomo’s handling of nursing home deaths in New York, after comments Kim made to the New York Post detailing a call Cuomo aide Melissa DeRosa had with lawmakers about the deaths.
“Gov. Cuomo called me directly on Thursday to threaten my career if I did not cover up for Melissa and what she said. He tried to pressure me to issue a statement, and it was a very traumatizing experience,” Kim told CNN last month.
Kim also alleges that Cuomo told him, “We’re in this business together and we don’t cross certain lines, and he said I hadn’t seen his wrath and that he can destroy me.”
Kim’s account has since sparked the revelation of a number of other similar stories about Cuomo from New York politicians, which were bolstered by Saturday’s Washington Post story about Hinton.
According to the Post, Cuomo “was often consumed by rage and irritation toward [staffers], only to be kind and charming in their next interactions. They found the sharp contrast to be deeply disorienting, with some saying it even drove colleagues to suffer emotional breakdowns.”
In the same story, Kim told the Washington Post that Cuomo’s behavior was a pattern.
“He feels untouchable,” Kim said of Cuomo. “Whether it’s verbal or physical abuse, or threatening lawmakers or journalists for doing their jobs, it’s come to a level where it’s so normalized that he doesn’t think twice about behaving that way.”
Cuomo says he isn’t going anywhere
Despite the mounting and diverse set of misconduct allegations facing Cuomo, it’s unclear what the future holds for him. James, the New York attorney general, has opened an independent civil investigation into sexual harassment allegations against Cuomo, and Saturday’s revelations have already intensified pressure on the governor to step down of his own accord.
Already this month, one member of New York’s congressional delegation, Rep. Kathleen Rice, has called on Cuomo to resign, and on Sunday, New York state Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins did so as well.
“New York is still in the midst of this pandemic and is still facing the societal, health and economic impacts of it,” Stewart-Cousins said in a statement. “We need to govern without daily distraction. For the good of the state Governor Cuomo must resign.”
Stewart-Cousins’s statement is a blow to an already embattled Cuomo, but it’s not especially surprising: Stewart-Cousins indicated in an interview Thursday that she would call for Cuomo’s resignation if more sexual harassment allegations surfaced. Since then, two more women — Liss and Hinton — have gone on the record accusing Cuomo of sexual misconduct.
New York state Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie supported Stewart-Cousins’s stance in a statement Sunday and called the allegations against Cuomo “deeply disturbing,” though he did not explicitly issue his own call for Cuomo to resign.
“I too share the sentiment of Senate Majority Leader Stewart-Cousins regarding the Governor’s ability to continue to lead this state,” Heastie said. “I think it is time for the Governor to seriously consider whether he can effectively meet the needs of the people of New York.”
Thus far, however, Cuomo has resisted calls to resign, though he issued an apology of sorts for his conduct at a press conference Wednesday.
“I have learned from what has been an incredibly difficult situation, for me as well as other people, and I’ve learned an important lesson,” Cuomo said Wednesday. “I’m sorry for whatever pain I caused anyone. I never intended it, and I will be the better for this experience.”
He also reiterated his refusal to step down on Sunday prior to Stewart-Cousins’s statement, telling reporters on a conference call that “there is no way I resign.”
If Cuomo were to resign, however, he would be replaced by New York Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul, who would be the first woman to hold the office.
Even if he does stay in office, the recent tide of scandals could undercut Cuomo’s political future in the state. He will be up for reelection in 2022, if he does choose to seek a fourth term as New York governor, and as Politico points out, he might 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,” one anonymous source told Politico of Cuomo’s plight. “Donors and consultants have begun reaching out to prospective candidates because they see the writing on the wall.”
Finally, Cuomo’s eventual political fate could have far broader implications for the Democratic Party: As Vox’s Anna North has written, “what happens next” — whether resignation, impeachment, or an eventual primary repudiation — “will show how Democrats handle sexual misconduct allegations against one of their own more than three years after the Me Too movement started making headlines.”
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Andrew Cuomo is the 56th governor of New York, serving since 2011. Prior to his role as governor, Cuomo served as secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (1997-2001) under President Bill Clinton.
In 2007 he became New York State's attorney general, working alongside former Governor Eliot Spitzer. Cuomo is the son of former New York Governor Mario Cuomo and the older brother of news anchor Chris Cuomo.
Since taking over the New York governorship, he has become known for focusing on LGBT rights, including marriage equality; women's rights; and economic stimulus in New York State.
Andrew Mark Cuomo was born in New York City on December 6, 1957, to mother Matilda Raffa Cuomo and father Mario Cuomo, former governor of New York and the son of Italian immigrants.
After graduating from Archbishop Molloy High School in 1975, Andrew Cuomo enrolled at Fordham University, graduating with his bachelor's degree in 1979.
He went on to attend Albany Law School, where he received his Juris Doctorate degree in 1982.
Cuomo served as his father's campaign manager during the race to become the 52nd governor of New York. After the elder Cuomo was elected to the first of three terms, in 1982, Andrew managed his father's Transition Committee and then became a top adviser.
Cuomo began serving as assistant district attorney of Manhattan in 1984, before becoming a partner in the law firm Blutrich, Falcone & Miller.
Transitioning back to public service, in 1986 he founded the state's Housing Enterprise for the Less Privileged (HELP).
According to Cuomo's website, HELP has since become “one of the nation's largest builders and operators of transitional and low income housing.”
In 1993, Cuomo became an assistant secretary at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) under President Bill Clinton. He took over as HUD secretary in 1997, and served in the role until 2001.
Cuomo made his first run for the New York governorship in 2002 but withdrew from the race after making a controversial comment about then-Governor George Pataki's lack of leadership following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. It was perceived as a major gaffe for the Democratic hopeful, and Cuomo dropped the public eye for a few years to work in real estate.
Cuomo returned to the spotlight by running for the position of New York attorney general in 2006. Promising to crack down on corrupt state government officials and enforce environmental laws, he easily defeated his Republican opponent, Jeanine Pirro.
Working alongside New York Governor Eliot Spitzer, Cuomo earned praise for fulfilling his campaign pledge to address corruption, notably filing a civil lawsuit against New York Senate Majority Leader Pedro Espada Jr. for stealing $14 million from his nonprofit health clinic. Additionally, his investigations prompted reforms within the state pension system and national student loan organizations.
New York Governor
Following Spitzer's resignation in the wake of a prostitution scandal, and the struggles of his successor, David Paterson, Cuomo launched a second bid for the state's governorship in 2010. This time he emerged victorious, handily defeating his Republican opponent, Carl Paladino, to become the 56th governor of New York.
As New York's top executive, Cuomo became known for focusing on LGBT rights, women's rights and economic improvements. He made a point of submitting a balanced budget every year on schedule, and lowered corporate and manufacturing taxes to spur job growth.
In July 2011, just two years after state lawmakers had rejected a marriage-equality law, the governor signed a bill that made New York the largest state to legalize same-sex marriage.
Taking a stance on another controversial issue, he legalized medical marijuana in New York in September 2014.
In other areas, Cuomo had less success.
He established what was supposed to be an independent commission to investigate state government corruption in July 2013, but the commission was hampered by infighting and pressure from the governor's office, before being abruptly shut down the following March. Additionally, Cuomo was accused of not doing enough to support fellow Democrats throughout the state.
Regardless, Cuomo easily won reelection in 2014. He defeated his Republican opponent, Rob Astorino, by earning approximately 54 percent of the vote.
Second and Third Terms
Not long after winning reelection, Cuomo took a bold step on a controversial environmental issue: He officially approved the New York Department of Environmental Conservation's call for a ban on hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, which is used to obtain natural gas and oil, making New York became the second state to ban the practice.
Turning toward infrastructure, the governor in 2013 announced the beginning of formal construction of a replacement for the Tappan Zee Bridge over the Hudson River north of New York City. The renamed Governor Mario M. Cuomo Bridge opened one side for west/northbound traffic in August 2017, with the other direction becoming operational the following year.
Additionally, the governor unveiled a $4 billion renovation plan for LaGuardia Airport in Queens, holding a groundbreaking ceremony in June 2016. That year Cuomo also enacted legislation to speed up foreclosure of neglected “zombie properties,” and published a Consumer Bill of Rights designed to protect homeowners facing foreclosure.
Up for reelection in 2018, Cuomo found himself competing against former Sex and the City actress Cynthia Nixon in the Democratic primary. The incumbent caused a stir during an August speech when, noting President Donald Trump's mantra to “make America great again,” he said that the country was “never that great.
” Cuomo added: “We have not reached greatness. We will reach greatness when every American is fully engaged.
We will reach greatness when discrimination and stereotyping of women, 51 percent of our population, is gone, and every woman's full potential is realized and unleashed and every woman is making her full contribution.”
Although Trump and his political allies ran with the controversial aspect of his comments, Cuomo defeated Nixon in the primary and again cruised to victory in the general election, topping Republican Marc Molinaro with nearly 60 percent of the vote in November.
Cuomo waded back into controversial waters with the passage of the Reproductive Health Act in January 2019. Responding to critics who accused him of lifting virtually all restrictions on abortion, he clarified his position in a February op-ed in The New York Times, emphasizing that the law permitted third-trimester abortions only when the woman's life or health were at risk.
Cuomo surfaced in the national spotlight following the confirmation of the first coronavirus patient in New York on March 1, 2020.
Although he pushed New York lawmakers into quickly approving $40 million in emergency funding to contain the virus, the number of confirmed patients exploded in the following weeks, turning New York into the center of the pandemic with more than 25,000 cases by March 24.
The governor publicly feuded with President Trump as he sought to acquire more resources for his state, including a request for 30,000 ventilators for hospitals. His request for assistance from the Army Corps of Engineers was heeded, with the corps quickly transforming the massive Jacob K. Javits Center on Manhattan's west side into a makeshift hospital by the end of March.
In mid-April, Cuomo issued an order that required New Yorkers to wear face masks in public places where social distancing was not possible.
Nursing Home Scandal
Later in 2020, Cuomo came under fire for his actions regarding New York's nursing homes.
During spring 2020, Cuomo made a state requirement that made nursing homes take back residents who had recovered from the virus.
Critics said that it increased the number of Covid-related deaths among nursing home residents. Cuomo and his administration later were accused of undercounting nursing home deaths by several thousand people.
Sexual Harassment Claims
In 2021, multiple women, including current and former staffers, came forward and accused Cuomo of sexual harassment. Both Republicans and Democrats, including New York senators Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, called for his resignation. Cuomo apologized for acting “in a way that made people feel uncomfortable,” but resisted calls for his resignation.
Personal Life and Wife
Cuomo dated famous television chef Sandra Lee from 2005 to 2019. Cuomo also has three daughters from his previous marriage to Kerry Kennedy, the daughter of the late New York Senator Robert F. Kennedy.