Stefanik calls for Cuomo harassment charge investigation

ERICA MILLER/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik speaks to her supporters on Election Night in Glens Falls on Nov. 3.

U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik speaks to her supporters on Election Night in Glens Falls on Nov. 3.

CAPITAL REGION — U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik is calling for an independent investigation into a former aide’s claim that Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo sexually harassed her when she worked for him between 2015 and 2018.

So far, the rest of the GOP hasn’t joined her, though her call got traction on social media and a story in the New York Post.

Stefanik, whose 21st Congressional District leans Republican, called for the outside probe on Monday, the day after the allegations emerged. Cuomo said the charges “just aren’t true.”

“I am publicly calling for an independent investigation into the serious allegations of pervasive workplace sexual harassment and verbal abuse by Governor Andrew Cuomo,” said Stefanik, R-Saratoga. “The people of New York deserve a governor who lives up to his own public statements on sexual harassment.”

After it was posted on Twitter, Stefanik’s call for an investigation had been retweeted more than 3,500 times by late Tuesday, and received more than 11,000 likes. Many of the people who commented on the post were critical, though — pointing to her high-profile and unwavering support for President Donald Trump, who has been accused of physically assaulting women. There is no allegation that Cuomo was physically inappropriate.

As of late Tuesday, no other New York Republicans had joined Stefanik. State GOP Chairman Nick Langworthy, however, was among those who had retweeted her.

The former Cuomo aide, Lindsey Boylan, is running for Manhattan borough president. In a series of tweets on Sunday that left details vague, she said Cuomo made inappropriate comments about her appearance.

Boylan tweeted that the Democratic governor “sexually harassed me for years. Many saw it, and watched.”

“I could never anticipate what to expect: would I be grilled on my work (which was very good) or harassed about my looks. Or would it be both in the same conversation? This was the way for years,” she continued.

Later Sunday, after journalists apparently sought to contact her, Boylan tweeted, “To be clear: I have no interest in talking to journalists. I am about validating the experience of countless women and making sure abuse stops.”

Boylan, 36, worked for the Cuomo administration from March 2015 to October 2018, serving first as executive vice president of Empire State Development, and then as a special adviser to Cuomo for economic development.

Stefanik, who has made national cable television appearances defending Trump and supporting conservative positions since receiving national attention in 2019 as a defender of Trump during impeachment hearings, has in recent weeks, before the harassment allegations surfaced, referred to Cuomo more than once as “the worst governor” in the United States.

Many conservatives have objected to Cuomo’s use of emergency powers to shut down or closely manage large parts of the state’s economy during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Cuomo has been holding near-daily press conferences or briefings since the pandemic began in March, and officially kept his focus on that during his Monday briefing. But the first question from the press after the briefing was about the harassment charge, and Cuomo said: “It’s not true. Look, I fought for and I believe a woman has the right to come forward and express her opinion, and express issues and concerns that she has, but it’s just not true.”

Stefanik, who is also 36, was solidly re-elected in November to a fourth two-year term in a district that voted for Trump. During the impeachment hearings, Trump called her a “rising star” in the Republican Party, and she had a speaking role at this year’s Republican convention. Like many in the party, she has yet to acknowledge President-elect Joe Biden won the November election.

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