Cuomo allegations
March 15, 2021

Several members of New York's state assembly and its congressional delegation, including Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), have called for Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) to resign in the wake of a series of allegations of sexual harassment and inappropriate behavior. As it turns out, though, New York voters aren't totally on board.

A new Siena College poll released Wednesday found that 50 percent of New Yorkers, including 61 percent of Democrats, don't think Cuomo should step down, while only 35 percent of the state's population is in favor of resignation. That does appear to suggest there's a disconnect between lawmakers and their constituents, but it doesn't tell the whole story.

Cuomo is planning to campaign for a fourth term next year, and the Siena poll shows he doesn't have a ton of support at the moment. Only 34 percent of those surveyed, including just 46 percent of Democrats, said they would vote to re-elect Cuomo. That may wind up being enough for him, especially if he's able to secure the Democratic nomination, but it does represent a bleaker outlook than the resignation data, which was compiled before Schumer, Gillibrand, and others made their stances public.

The Siena College poll was conducted between March 8-12 among 805 registered New York voters. The margin of error is 4.1 percentage points. Read the full results here. Tim O'Donnell

March 14, 2021

Larry Schwartz, a longtime adviser to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) who is serving in a volunteer capacity as the state's COVID-19 vaccine czar, made some calls to New York county officials last week that led at least a few of them to worry about their jurisdiction's vaccine supply, The Washington Post reports.

Cuomo is under investigation and facing calls to resign after a series of allegations of sexual harassment and inappropriate behavior toward women in recent weeks, and Schwartz, who has earned a reputation as the governor's enforcer, acknowledged calling the officials to get a sense of where they stood on the matter. He claims he did so in a role that was distinct from his vaccine duties, and two officials did tell the Post they didn't consider the calls a threat. However, they said they understood why others were unsettled by the exchanges. Per The New York Times, one official said Schwartz did indeed pivot directly from Cuomo's political situation to a discussion about vaccine distribution.

One county executive filed notice of an impending ethics complaint with the public integrity unit of the state attorney general's office. "At best, it was inappropriate," the executive, speaking on condition of anonymity, told the Post. "At worst, it was clearly over the ethical line."

As Arthur Caplan, the director of medical ethics at the NYU Grossman School of Medicine, put it, "if you are in control of a vital supply of a live-saving resource ... you are carrying an enormous amount of implicit clout when you ask for political allegiance." Read more at The Washington Post and The New York Times. Tim O'Donnell

March 13, 2021

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) became the latest New York politicians to call for Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) to resign amid several allegations of sexual harassment and inappropriate workplace behavior, joining the majority of both the state assembly and congressional delegation. In a joint statement, the senators said "it is clear" Cuomo has "lost the confidence of his governing partners and the people of New York."

Earlier in the day, Lindsey Boylan, the first former aide to accuse Cuomo of sexually harassing her, called Schumer and Gillibrand "colossal cowards" and threatened to start a political action committee to oust them from office in the future if they continued to remain silent.

Once the senators issued their statement, Boylan said she was glad they "stepped up to the plate."

Meanwhile, Cuomo has remained defiant and there are no signs he plans to resign at the moment, though he hasn't responded directly to Schumer and Gillibrand. Tim O'Donnell

March 12, 2021

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) is now facing damaging allegations from all angles.

Several women have come forward in recent weeks to accuse Cuomo of sexual harassment and misconduct, leading the governor to hold a defiant press conference insisting he will not cede to Democratic lawmakers' calls for him to resign. But just before Cuomo began telling reporters "I never abused anyone" and argued there are "often many motivations for making an allegation," both The New York Times and Vanity Fair published new exposés on what it's like to work for the governor.

Former Cuomo aide and State Senator Alessandra Biaggi tells the Times that working under Cuomo "is the worst place to be" for young women hoping to advance their careers. Dozens of sources interviewed by the Times describe a toxic environment where women are rewarded for adhering to archaic dress-code standards and trying to win favor with the governor in a "deeply chaotic, unprofessional" workplace. Most said they didn't witness overt sexual harassment, but many said the allegations did not surprise them.

Meanwhile, Vanity Fair describes all kinds of unflattering anecdotes, reported by Cuomo biographer Michael Shnayerson. He recalls Cuomo following in his father's gubernatorial footsteps, saying he "inspired both loyalty and fear" as he rose in the ranks. Cuomo reportedly repeatedly "demeaned his subordinates," calling civil service staffers "f-ckheads" or "dumb f-cks." Vanity Fair says he "pitted key advisers in direct competition," and the Times similarly says staffers were made to "compete to earn his affection and avoid his wrath."

The one-two punch of such harsh depictions of Cuomo's leadership seem to indicate the floodgates have opened to release any and all criticism of the governor that staffers, former employees, and longtime acquaintances may have been holding back for years. Cuomo's office continues to deny any accusations of wrongdoing and says it's simply a matter of "tough jobs" with "demanding work."

Though Vanity Fair says "the governor may not survive" this tsunami of scandal, Shnayerson also notes "after each of Cuomo's struggles, he has ultimately prevailed." Summer Meza

March 11, 2021

A recent allegation against New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) has been reported to the Albany Police Department.

After the Times Union reported that a female Cuomo aide alleged the governor "aggressively groped" her at the Executive Mansion last year, The New York Times reported Thursday that the Albany Police Department was notified about the allegations, an incident that officials said may have risen "to the level of a crime."

Beth Garvey, the governor's acting counsel, confirmed to the Times she reported the allegations, saying that "as a matter of state policy, when allegations of physical contact are made, the agency informs the complainant that they should contact their local police department," and if they decline to do so, "the agency has an obligation to reach out themselves." Garvey added that the accuser "did not want to make a report," so the state provided police with their attorney's information. An Albany police spokesperson told the Times it had reached out to a lawyer for the accuser.

Cuomo has been facing allegations of sexual harassment from multiple women, and he previously apologized for making "anyone feel uncomfortable," but he denied that he ever "touched anyone inappropriately." The new groping claim was the "most serious allegation made yet," the Associated Press noted. Cuomo denied the allegation, saying, "I have never done anything like this."

The Times noted that although it was standard procedure for the groping allegation to be referred to police, the step emphasized "the potential criminal exposure" the governor could face were the accuser to pursue charges. Brendan Morrow

March 9, 2021

An unnamed aide reported to her supervisor that New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) inappropriately touched her at New York's Executive Mansion, Cuomo's home, after she had been summoned to work there one day late last year, the Times Union — the newspaper that serves the New York capital region — reported Tuesday.

The latest allegation of sexual harassment against Cuomo has reportedly been referred to New York Attorney General Letitia James' office, which is conducting an investigation on the claims. This marks the fourth aide or former aide to accuse Cuomo of inappropriate workplace behavior during his tenure as governor in recent weeks. Previously, Karen Hinton described an inappropriate encounter she had with Cuomo when she was working as a consultant for the Department of Housing and Urban Development while Cuomo was the department's secretary. Another woman, Anna Ruch, said Cuomo made an unwanted advance when she met him at a wedding. Lindsey Boylan alleged he kissed her without consent, Ana Liss accused him of inappropriate conduct, and Charlotte Bennet described questions that made her "horribly uncomfortable;" all three women are former aides.

Cuomo, who is also under fire over how his administration handled data related to COVID-19 deaths in New York's nursing homes, has faced calls to resign from Democrats and Republicans, though he has squashed that idea. On Tuesday, he skirted a question about whether he'll seek another term in office, saying only "you know allegations. You don't know facts. Let's operate on facts." Read more at Politico and The Times Union. Tim O'Donnell

March 7, 2021

Ana Liss became the third former aide to accuse New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) of inappropriate workplace behavior. In an interview with The Wall Street Journal published Saturday night, Liss said that during her tenure as a policy and operations aide in the Cuomo administration between 2013 and 2015, the governor asked her about her dating life, called her sweetheart, touched her lower back at a reception, and once kissed her hand when she rose from her desk.

Two other former aides, Charlotte Bennett and Lindsey Boylan, have accused Cuomo of sexual harassment, and New York Attorney General Letitia James is overseeing an investigation into the matter. Liss did not appear to directly allege sexual harassment, but she did describe Cuomo's behavior toward her as inappropriate and patronizing, explaining that the governor never asked her about her work. "I wish that he took me seriously," Liss, who won a competitive fellowship to work on economic development programs in the Cuomo administration, told the Journal.

Liss said she never filed a formal complaint, but she did ask for a transfer to another office before leaving the state government altogether in 2015. She said her experience working for Cuomo prompted her to begin mental health counseling, and another fellow who worked in the administration at the same time told the Journal he noticed Liss became more withdrawn over time.

Meanwhile, Cuomo is also under fire after reporting revealed his office manipulated COVID-19 death statistics in nursing homes last year, and on Saturday, the editorial board of The Times Union, the newspaper that serves Albany and the New York capital region, called for his resignation over the matter. Read more at The Wall Street Journal and The Times Union. Tim O'Donnell

February 28, 2021

Several New York politicians, including New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, have weighed in on allegations that Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) sexually harassed two former aides over the last several years.

Multiple Democratic state legislators have called for Cuomo's resignation, though most lawmakers at the state and national level want an independent investigation to take place first. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said President Biden supports one, as well. Cuomo's office announced it had appointed former federal Judge Barbara Jones to lead the review, but that didn't sit well with lawmakers, who argued the investigator should be appointed by New York Attorney General Letitia James instead.

In response, the Cuomo administration reversed course to an extent Sunday, asking James to work jointly with the chief judge of the New York Court of Appeals (whom Cuomo appointed) to "select an independent and qualified lawyer in private practice without political affiliation to conduct a thorough review of the matter and issue a public report." James has already confirmed she's ready to oversee the investigation.

As for de Blasio, the mayor — whose relationship with Cuomo has never been smooth, to say the least — issued a statement calling for independent investigations into both the sexual harassment allegations and the recent revelations about New York's COVID-19 nursing home deaths, saying "questions of this magnitude cannot hang over the heads of New Yorkers as we fight off a pandemic and economic crisis." Now, he said, "it's clear" that the New York legislature "must immediately revoke the governor's emergency powers that overrule local control." Tim O'Donnell

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