“There should be a zero tolerance policy when it comes to sexual harassment & must send a clear message that this behavior is not tolerated.”
We couldn’t have said it better than Gov. Andrew Cuomo did himself when he tweeted this on May 17, 2013.
In the wake of state Attorney General Letitia James’ scathing report issued Tuesday on numerous sexual harassment allegations brought against Cuomo, the governor needs to apply that zero-tolerance policy to his own conduct — and resign.
He didn’t have the courage, dignity or class to do that when he had the chance on Tuesday — instead responding with denials, deflected blame, accusations of political malfeasance and a distasteful montage of him kissing men, women and children to demonstrate his normal affectionate demeanor.
He couldn’t have proven himself more tone deaf or less aware of the consequences of his actions than that response.
Should he continue to refuse to resign, the Legislature needs to send that message and force him out of office by immediately convening an impeachment proceeding.
The allegations are numerous, credible and repulsive.
Here are few citations from the attorney general’s report:
Regarding a female state trooper assigned to protect the governor:
“Governor sexually harassed her on a number of occasions, including by: running his hand across her stomach, from her belly button to her right hip, while she held a door open for him at an event; running his finger down her back, from the top of her neck down her spine to the middle of her back, saying hey, you, while she was standing in front of him in an elevator; kissing her (and only her) on the cheek in front of another Trooper and asking to kiss her on another occasion, which she deflected; and making sexually suggestive and gender-based comments, including asking her to help him find a girlfriend and describing his criteria for a girlfriend as someone who “(can) handle pain, asking her why she wanted to get married when marriage means “your sex drive goes down, asking her why she did not wear a dress. The (trooper) found these interactions with the Governor not only offensive and uncomfortable.”
Regarding a state employee attending a function in which the governor spoke:
“While the picture was being taken, the Governor put his hand (the employee’s) butt tapped it twice, and then grabbed her butt. (She) was “shocked at the time, and discussed it with a number of friends, family, and co-workers. Following the advice of a friend, she also contemporaneously memorialized the Governor’s inappropriate touching.”
Regarding Virginia Limmiatis, at an event in which she was wearing a shirt with her company logo on the front:
“When the Governor reached Ms. Limmiatis, he ran two fingers across her chest, pressing down on one of the letters as he did so and reading out the name of the Energy Company as he went. The Governor then leaned in, with his face close to Ms. Limmiatis’s cheek, and said, “going to say I see a spider on your shoulder, before brushing his hand in the area between her shoulder and breasts and below her collarbone.”
Regarding Ana Liss, an aide in the Executive Chamber.
“The Governor addressed her almost exclusively as “sweetheart” or “darling” on occasion, kissed her on the cheeks and hand, touched and held her hands, and slid his hand around her lower waist; commented on how she looked “lovely” and asked whether she had a boyfriend.”
Liss said she didn’t report the incidents while she was employed because it was clear “the typical rules didn’t apply.”
There are plenty more of these contained in the report, along with the victims’ statements and photos.
We have twice called for the governor to resign or be impeached, based both times on his inability to govern effectively due to investigations into the sexual harassment allegations, his covid book deal and use of state employees, his manipulation of covid nursing home statistics related to his policies, and other allegations.
But now a report on the first of several investigations is out.
It’s damning to the degree that it proves not only that Cuomo is not fit to serve as governor, but is no longer able to serve under such a cloud.
Not only will he likely face impeachment proceedings in the Legislature, he could be subject to state and federal prosecution.
None of this will go away anytime soon, plunging state government into a period of paralysis and political upheaval, no matter how many photos Cuomo posts of himself kissing his mother.
If he won’t do the right thing and resign, he needs to be removed.
His victims, and his constituents, at the very least deserve that.