ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has been accused of sexual harassment by two former aides. He has since issued an apology and an independent investigation into the accusations is about to begin.
Here are the top six takeaways from the ongoing scandal so far:
1. The NY Attorney General’s Office was given a referral to independently investigate the sexual harassment claims
On Monday, March 1, New York Attorney General Letitia James said her office received a referral letter from the executive chamber giving her authority to independently investigate the claims of sexual harassment against the Governor. The referral also gives the AG’s office subpoena power.
She said in a statement:
“Today, the executive chamber transmitted a referral letter to our office, providing us the authority to move forward with an independent investigation into allegations of sexual harassment claims made against Governor Cuomo. This is not a responsibility we take lightly as allegations of sexual harassment should always be taken seriously. As the letter states, at the close of the review, the findings will be disclosed in a public report.”New York Attorney General Letitia James
2. Cuomo apologizes for actions, claims they were ‘misinterpreted’
In a statement Sunday, Gov. Cuomo said some of his actions may have been “misinterpreted as an unwanted flirtation.” He said he had teased people about their personal lives in an attempt to be “playful” but that he never meant to hurt anyone.
He said in-part:
“I now understand that my interactions may have been insensitive or too personal and that some of my comments, given my position, made others feel in ways I never intended. I acknowledge some of the things I have said have been misinterpreted as an unwanted flirtation. To the extent anyone felt that way, I am truly sorry about that.”New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo
The Governor maintained that he never inappropriately touched anyone nor propositioned anyone.
His second accuser denounced the apology.
3. The Governor’s Office initially selected a former federal judge to conduct the investigation
The New York Attorney General’s Office plans to hire a law firm and appoint a special deputy to investigate the harassment allegations, but this only comes after the Governor’s Office previously suggested a federal judge with ties to his administration to lead the investigation.
Saturday night, the Cuomo administration announced former Federal Judge Barbara Jones would lead a review of the harassment allegations, but they received backlash over the ethics of the Governor choosing his own reviewer.
Cuomo’s office then suggested the attorney general and the Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals jointly select an “independent and qualified lawyer in private practice without political affiliation” to conduct the review.
Attorney General James then requested a referral, including subpoena powers from the Governor, so she can “oversee that investigation and make any appointments necessary.” She also released a subsequent statement stating she rejected Cuomo’s proposal of an investigation headed by an independent attorney.
“To clarify, I do not accept the Governor’s proposal. The state’s Executive Law clearly gives my office the authority to investigate this matter once the Governor provides a referral. While I have deep respect for Chief Judge DiFiore, I am the duly elected Attorney General and it is my responsibility to carry out this task, per Executive Law. The Governor must provide this referral so an independent investigation with subpoena power can be conducted.”NEW YORK ATTORNEY GENERAL LETITIA JAMES
She was ultimately given the referral on Monday.
4. A second woman accuses Cuomo of sexual harassment
A second former aide accused the Governor of sexual harassment in an interview with The New York Times. Charlotte Bennett, 25, claims Cuomo, 63, asked her questions about her sex life, including if she had ever been with an older man. The former health policy advisor also stated the Governor said he was “open to relationships with women in their 20s.”
5. Former aide accuses the Governor of sexual harassment
Lindsey Boylan, 36, first accused Gov. Cuomo of sexual harassment in a tweet in December 2020.
She followed up her accusation with a piece she wrote on Medium in February that detailed alleged harassment she said she experienced while working for the Governor. In the article, she accused Cuomo of suggesting they play strip poker while on his private jet and kissing her after a meeting.
Cuomo has denied her claims.
6. Increasing number of lawmakers call for investigation, Governor’s resignation
Amid the sexual harassment allegations, an increasing number of lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are in support of an independent investigation, and many are calling for Cuomo’s resignation.
The Democratic New York Senate Majority Leader said “the continued allegations are deeply disturbing and concerning,” and the Republican Senate Minority Leader said “I have been vocal in calling for an end to the Governor’s emergency powers, something I still strongly support. But in light of the news of the past few weeks, it has become increasingly clear that does not go far enough.”