Under mounting pressure from his party, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Sunday evening asked the state’s attorney general to oversee an investigation into allegations of sexual harassment made against him by two former aides.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo speaks at a press conference held in LaGuardia Airport’s new Terminal … [+]
The governor called for the investigation in a lengthy statement in which he apologized for comments he says were “misinterpreted as an unwanted flirtation,” insisting that he meant “no offense” and was only attempting “to add some levity and banter to what is a very serious business.”
While he apologized for comments he admits may have been “insensitive or too personal” given his position, Cuomo insists he never inappropriately touched or propositioned anybody, contrary to what two of his former female staffers have alleged.
Cuomo agreed to the investigation after proposing two other iterations of an inquiry that would not have ceded full investigative power to New York Attorney General Letitia James (D), whose office was responsible for uncovering the extent to which the Cuomo administration under-counted coronavirus-linked nursing home deaths.
After a second former Cuomo staffer accused him of sexual harassment on Saturday night, the governor’s office had tasked former Federal Judge Barbara Jones with handling the inquiry, though this proposal was met with scrutiny due to Jones’s ties to one of his closest allies and the insistence from many lawmakers that the inquiry should be independent.
Cuomo’s office then proposed Sunday morning that James work with Janet DiFiore, the chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals, to appoint a lawyer for the investigation, but James declined the proposal because a lack of official referral from Cuomo would’ve weakened her office’s ability to full investigate the allegations.
James said in a statement released shortly after Cuomo’s that her office is now expecting to receive “a referral with subpoena power” to investigate the allegations against Cuomo.
“To be clear I never inappropriately touched anybody and I never propositioned anybody and I never intended to make anyone feel uncomfortable, but these are allegations that New Yorkers deserve answers to,” wrote Cuomo in his Sunday evening statement. “That’s why I have asked for an outside, independent review.”
Cuomo—who was already battling a political firestorm over his administration’s handling of nursing homes during the Covid-19 pandemic—has faced mounting scrutiny after two former aides accused him of sexual harassment. Lindsey Boylan, a former advisor to the governor who is currently running for Manhattan borough president, alleged in a blog post that she was sexually harassed for years while working for the governor, detailing inappropriate touching and an unsolicited kiss. A second woman—Charlotte Bennet, a former executive assistant and advisor to the governor—similarly accused the governor of sexual harassment on Saturday, telling The New York Times that Cuomo asked deeply personal questions about her sex life which she interpreted to be sexual advances. Cuomo denied making any inappropriate advances in a statement from his office to Forbes on Saturday, saying he viewed himself as a mentor to Bennet. Cuomo has denied Boylan’s claims on multiple occasions.
“Former Cuomo Aide Details Sexual Harassment Allegations” (Forbes)
“Cuomo Directs NY Attorney General, Top Judge To Oversee Sexual Harassment Inquiry” (Forbes)
“Report: 2nd Staffer Accuses Gov. Cuomo Of Sexual Harassment” (Forbes)
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