Capital Region lawmakers joined a torrent of elected officials Saturday and Sunday calling for an investigation into sexual harassment allegations against Gov. Andrew Cuomo, and at least one local Democrat and one local Republican called on the governor to resign.
Assemblymember Phil Steck, D-Colonie, on Sunday said the latest sexual harassment allegations — along with Cuomo’s handling of nursing home death information and his treatment of Assemblymember Ron Kim — illuminated a pattern of abusive behavior Cuomo should resign over.
“There is clearly a persistent pattern of abuse of power that makes this governor’s service no longer tenable and in fact a distraction from the important business of government,” Steck said Sunday. “Abusive relationships are not conducive to effective policymaking.”
Steck said the governor had the right to defend himself against sexual harassment allegations, but citing a series of recent stories documenting instances of Cuomo threatening and bullying lawmakers, reporters and staff, the assemblyman said Cuomo could no longer effectively lead the state government.
“I don’t see how we as a Legislature can make effective policy when, if you don’t go along with what the governor says, you get threatened or aren’t given accurate information,” Steck said.
State Sen. Jim Tedisco, R-Glenville, on Sunday also called for Cuomo’s resignation, arguing the governor should step down or lawmakers should remove him from office. Tedisco, who called for an independent investigation following the first detailed sexual harassment allegations last week, said the governor’s converging scandals made it difficult for Cuomo to remain an effective governor.
“The legislature should remove his powers tomorrow. He should do the right thing and resign,” Tedisco said in the statement. “If he fails to do so, the Assembly has a responsiblity to be a check and balance in this representative democracy and pass articles of impeachment so my Senate colleagues and I are able to remove him from office and we can turn the page on this sad chapter in our state’s history.”
Other local lawmakers called for an independent investigation following a pair of former state employees who accused Cuomo this week of sexual harassment.
Assemblymember Carrie Woerner, D-Saratoga, joined two dozen other women Democrat assembly members on Sunday who called for an investigation into sexual harassment allegations against Cuomo, emphasizing the importance of stamping out of the workplace all sexual harassment.
“Sexual harassment has no place in any environment – not in a bar, not in the street, not in the workplace, and certainly not in our government,” the lawmakers said in the joint statement.
The statement called for an independent investigation into the allegations and concluded that if the allegations prove credible, “the governor must be held accountable.”
Assemblymember Angelo Santabarbara, D-Rotterdam, on Sunday stopped short of calling for Cuomo’s immediate resignation but said the state attorney general should be empowered to fully investigate the sexual harassment allegations. He also said the allegations and scandal surrounding Cuomo made it difficult to carry out the business of state government. He said state lawmakers had an obligation to ensure the claims are investigated and considered.
“If these allegations are proven to be true, no doubt about it, he should absolutely resign,” Santabarbara said. “We cannot stand by, sexual harassment in the workplace cannot be tolerated and has no place anywhere in the Capitol.”
Two former state employees in the past week outlined specific allegations of sexual harassment against the governor: one said the governor kissed her while they were alone in his office and asked her if she wanted to “play strip poker,” while a second woman in her mid-20s said the governor asked her about her sex life and whether she would have relationships with older men.
Local Republican lawmakers also reiterated calls to investigate the governor.
“(The New York Times story documenting allegations) describes behavior by Governor Cuomo that if true is disturbing and completely unacceptable for anyone, and especially the top elected official in New York State,” a group of Republican state senators, including Daphne Jordan, R-Halfmoon, said in a joint statement Saturday night. “His alleged predatory actions are egregious and if the account is accurate, they have crossed the line.”
Federal lawmakers also joined the calls for an independent investigation under the state attorney general’s supervision. Rep. Antonio Delgado on Sunday called the allegations “serious and credible” and called for an independent investigation. By Sunday afternoon, so did Democratic Senators Kirsten Gillibrand and Chuck Schumer.
“These allegations are serious and deeply concerning,” Gillibrand said.
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