Calls for Cuomo to be investigated over harassment charges

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks during a press conference Wednesday

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks during a press conference Wednesday

ALBANY — Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo got hit with another bombshell on Wednesday, as a former female aide spelled out in detail allegations that the governor sexually harassed her.

The alleged harassment comes as the the governor faces growing calls for accountability on how the state handled COVID-19 deaths in nursing homes and documented, or classified, those deaths. Republicans and some Democrats are also calling for an end to the emergency powers Cuomo was granted last March to deal with the pandemic.

The fresh allegations from Lindsey Boylan brought calls for his resignation from Republicans, and even critical comments from erstwhile allies. Both Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie and Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins said the charges were serious and harassment should not be tolerated.

“These are serious allegations that require an independent and timely investigation,” said Assemblywoman Patricia Fahy, D-Albany, normally a progressive ally of the governor’s. “No form of sexual harassment can be tolerated in the workplace — and cannot be tolerated at any level of government.”

Boylan, who was chief of staff at Empire State Development in 2015 and later worked as an economic development adviser in the governor’s office, wrote a post on the online forum Medium that during her more than three years working in the administration, Cuomo “would go out of his way to touch me on my lower back, arms and legs,” and once joked they should play strip poker during an airplane flight, with others present.

Boylan resigned in September 2018 and is currently running for Manhattan borough president. While she said in December that she had been harassed by Cuomo without going into detail, the essay published Wednesday provided the details of several encounters.

Boylan wrote: “Governor Andrew Cuomo has created a culture within his administration where sexual harassment and bullying is so pervasive that it is not only condoned but expected. His inappropriate behavior toward women was an affirmation that he liked you, that you must be doing something right. He used intimidation to silence his critics. And if you dared to speak up, you would face consequences.”

State Sen. James Tedisco, R-Glenville, who is already one of Cuomo’s most persistent critics on the nursing home deaths issues, called Boylan’s account “an important and disturbing read.” He wrote on Twitter: “There needs to be an independent investigation into these allegations as well as Cuomo’s coverup into the deaths of 15,000 nursing home residents.”

Also on Twitter, Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara, D-Rotterdam, said “These are serious allegations. I’m calling for an immediate investigation into the governor’s workplace behavior. Sexual harassment of any kind cannot be tolerated.”

U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-Saratoga, who has taken to calling Cuomo “the worst governor in America,” went further, saying he should resign.

“Sexual harassment and sexual abuse in the workplace is not a political issue, it is about right and wrong,” Stefanik said. “Governor Cuomo must immediately resign. And any elected official who does not immediately call for his resignation is complicit in allowing a sexual predator to continue leading the great state of New York.”

With Cuomo eligible to run for a fourth term in 2022, some have seen Stefanik’s criticism as indications of her interest in challenging him then.

Cuomo’s office said the allegations from Boylan are untrue. “As we said before, Ms. Boylan’s claims of inappropriate behavior are quite simply false,” press secretary Caitlin Girouard said in a press release.

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