Calls for impeachment and demands for Governor Andrew Cuomo to resign have been in the headlines following a series of scandals involving the Governor. Last month, Assembly Republicans called for Cuomo’s impeachment following the mishandling of the state’s nursing home data, undercounting the COVID-19 related deaths in nursing homes by nearly half. Now, with an Attorney General investigation into the alleged sexual misconducts reported against the governor, the resolution for impeachment was updated to include two of the six sexual harassment allegations.
On Feb. 24, 2021, Lindsey Boylan published a lengthy Medium article chronicling her former experience working under the Cuomo administration as Vice President at Empire State Development, where she documents the governor’s unwarranted advances that occurred from 2016 to 2018. She opens up the article with “Let’s play strip poker,” something she recalls the governor saying to her as they sat next to one another on a flight home from an event in West New York. Perhaps the more surprising part was her follow-up statement, to which she explains that there was no shock-factor in his most recent advance. It was a year later, in 2018, when she claims he kissed her on the lips as she got up to leave a one-on-one briefing in his New York City office.
“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,” Boylan said in the Medium article.
Other details were noted throughout her confession – details with receipts providing evidence of the governor’s fishy behavior through emails with Stephanie Benton, the Director of the Governor’s Office, as well as friends and family Boylan had texted about his advances as they were happening.
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In an article published by The New York Times on Feb. 27, merely three days after the first accusation, Charlotte Bennett, a former executive assistant, and health policy adviser came forward citing her own harassment allegations against Cuomo, many of which were as recent as June 2020, while the COVID-19 pandemic was still a fledgling. Bennett, who is 25 years old, claims that he had asked her if she had ever been with an older man, asked questions about her sex life, and whether she was monogamous in her relationships.
Furthermore, Anna Ruch, a former member of the Obama administration, said the governor asked if he could kiss her when he first met her at a wedding reception. Karen Hinton, a former top aide, claims he “embraced her intimately” despite her pulling away nearly 21 years ago. And Ana Liss, another former aide, says that he asked if she had a boyfriend, touched her lower back, and kissed her hand. A sixth case by an unidentified woman who currently works under the Cuomo administration was recently reported to Albany Police Department, accusing him of aggressively groping her.
Here is one basic fact that badly hurts Judge Kavanaugh: Why won’t he take a polygraph? Dr. Ford did.
President Trump: You can and should ask him to take the test. pic.twitter.com/aPP4xNOEB3
— Andrew Cuomo (@NYGovCuomo) September 27, 2018
Some can remember the 2018 tweets made by Cuomo amidst the Brett Kavanaugh case and his adamancy towards truth in sexual assault cases, where he called on Kavanaugh to take a polygraph test. Or when he called for former State Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman to resign following the report that four women accused him of physical assault in 2018. While the governor has refused to resign and denied ever touching anyone inappropriately, he did give a televised apology, that many, including the victims, have criticized. “I never knew at the time that I was making anyone feel uncomfortable,” he said. “And I certainly never meant to offend anyone or hurt anyone or cause anyone any pain. That is the last thing I would ever want to do.”
New York Democrats such as Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Jamaal Bowman have voiced their support for the governor’s resignation. In most recent news, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand have released a joint statement calling for the governor to resign. “Due to the multiple, credible sexual harassment and misconduct allegations, it is clear that Governor Cuomo has lost the confidence of his governing partners and the people of New York,” they said in the statement. “Governor Cuomo should resign.”
Should he ultimately refuse to step down, what would an impeachment process look like for Cuomo? Out of the 56 governors in New York State history, only one has been impeached – Governor William Sulzer in 1913. An impeachment for Cuomo, who is in his third term, would begin with the Assembly’s passing of an impeachment resolution, where they need the simple majority (at least 76 members) to vote in favor. In that case, it would then go to Senate for trial where he would need at least two-thirds of the members to vote in favor of impeachment to be convicted and removed from office.
The allegations have sparked a conversation on the journalistic ethical issues surrounding his brother, CNN host, Chris Cuomo’s coverage of the topic. A level of hypocrisy lies on the forefront of the issue as the governor had appeared on Cuomo Prime Time nine times during the COVID-19 pandemic. In the handful of segments which aired between March 19 and June 24, 2020, the brothers would discuss issues regarding the pandemic while engaging in playful banter, which made its rounds trending on Twitter and entertaining viewers.
If Chris Cuomo could have his brother on his show to joke around and boost ratings with his COVID-19 coverage, why is he not on now, when the questions get difficult? “You’re straight with me, I’ll be straight with you,” Chris Cuomo told viewers. “Obviously, I’m aware of what’s going on with my brother. And obviously, I cannot cover it because he is my brother.” Though CNN had not let the host interview or cover topics regarding his brother since he began at the station in 2013, a spokesperson said that allowing the two to talk during the early days of the pandemic presented human interest as they discussed the challenges millions of American families were facing.
While CNN is going to continue to cover the story without help from Chris Cuomo, the ban on him conversing with his brother as a topic came back into play after the governor failed to disclose the full amount of nursing home deaths that occurred during the pandemic. Media outlets from Vanity Fair to Newsweek to NBC 4 New York have criticized the decision to allow the Cuomo brothers to go on air with one another to begin with, denouncing it as “wildly inappropriate”.
There is much to unpack from the past month’s revelations. Whether the governor will end up resigning or being impeached is a question that only time will answer. When asked if the Democratic governor should resign, President Joe Biden stated he would like to see what comes of the sexual harassment investigations. “I think the investigation is underway and we should see what it brings us.”