NYS leaders react to second sexual harassment allegation against Gov. Cuomo

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NEW YORK STATE (WSYR–TV) – New York State leaders are reacting to a report Saturday night from the New York Times that revealed a second accusation of sexual harassment against Governor Andrew Cuomo by a former aide.

“Sen. Schumer has said many times that sexual harassment is never acceptable and must not be tolerated, and that any credible allegation should be thoroughly investigated.”

ALLISON BIASOTTI, SPOKESWOMAN FOR U.S. SENATE MAJORITY LEADER CHUCK SCHUMER

“The latest allegations about Governor Cuomo’s conduct are incredibly disturbing. The review suggested by someone handpicked by the Governor himself, is an outrageous, completely unacceptable idea. We need a truly independent investigation, which is why I continue to support the calls of my colleagues for a Special Prosecutor appointed by the Attorney General.

I will be convening members of the Senate Republican Conference tomorrow morning to discuss these egregious allegations and any next steps that our conference must take.”

NY SENATE MINORITY LEADER ROBERT ORTT (R)

For months, our conference has been calling for an independent, top to bottom investigation of Governor Cuomo and his administration because of their disturbing disinformation efforts regarding COVID-19 in our nursing homes. This past week, when additional disturbing information came to light regarding allegations of sexual harassment made against the Governor, members of our conference called on Attorney General Letitia James to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate. With more women coming forward to share their experience, we are reiterating that call and demanding an independent, thorough investigation that must commence immediately. 

This is the story of a failing administration. Week by week, Governor Cuomo’s credibility has fallen apart as additional chapters of this saga unfold. We learned recently about the criminal investigation into this administration being conducted by the Department of Justice related to a cover-up of nursing home deaths. This news was followed by damning revelations from current and former members of the Legislature revealing a pattern of bullying, arm twisting and threats by the Governor and his team. Now, this administration faces calls for independent investigations into multiple harassment allegations by former members of the Governor’s staff.

The past week’s disturbing details on sexual harassment allegedly committed by the Governor against two brave women further expose the toxic leadership of Governor Andrew Cuomo. 

This is an exceedingly difficult time in state government. Leaders in Albany must not only lead our state through a historic global pandemic, but negotiate a state budget in the midst of a fiscal and economic crisis. These tasks require leaders who have the trust of the public and level of focus to tackle the difficult tasks ahead. At this time, Governor Cuomo provides neither.

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. 

The Governor has repeatedly broken the public’s trust, he has demonstrated toxic leadership qualities, and he is irreparably compromised in his dealings with his co-equal partners in the Legislature. For these reasons, I believe Governor Cuomo must resign.

NY SENATE MINORITY LEADER ROBERT ORTT (R)

“The continued allegations are deeply disturbing and concerning. The behavior described has no place in the workplace. A truly independent investigation must begin immediately.”

NY SENATE MAJORITY LEADER ANDREA STEWART-COUSINS (D)

“With additional allegations against Gov. Cuomo coming to light, the response must be clear and decisive. A thorough investigation, conducted by an entity completely outside the governor’s reach, must begin immediately.”

NY ASSEMBLY MINORITY LEADER WILLIAM BARCLAY (R)

It is discouraging to have keep repeating this: credible accusations of sexual harassment need to be taken seriously. It is time for an independent investigation.”

“Attorney General James has called for an official referral from the Governor to give her office the power to conduct an investigation. I fully support that call, and fully trust the Attorney General’s ability to oversee a thorough and swift investigation. Sexual harassment has no place anywhere in our society. The continued allegations are deeply disturbing and concerning.”

STATE SENATOR RACHEL MAY (D)

“The recent claims of harassment against the governor are serious and disturbing, and these matters require an immediate and truly independent investigation. Wherever it occurs, allegations of this nature must be addressed urgently and thoroughly.”

ASSEMBLYMAN AL STIRPE (D)

“These allegations are deeply troubling and no person should be subjected to what has been reported. An investigation that is fair and independent should commence immediately.”

STATE SENATOR JOHN MANNION (D)

“It takes bravery and courage for victims to come forward with their horrific experiences facing sexual harassment, sexual grooming, and sexual abuse from Governor Cuomo. Governor Cuomo is a criminal sexual predator and he must immediately resign. I was one of the first and one of the only elected officials to call on the Governor to resign on Dec 14th. Today, it’s time for other New York State leaders to grow a spine. The New York Times article recounting Governor Cuomo’s sickening workplace sexual harassment and grooming of Ms. Bennett is so horrific it makes your skin crawl.”

CONGRESSWOMAN ELISE STEFANIK (R)

“These are serious and deeply concerning accusations made against the Governor that definitely warrant investigation. Sexual harassment should not be tolerated in any form. I want to reiterate that the women who have made these allegations should be respected and deserve to be heard. That is why I am calling on the Attorney General, in some manner, to conduct an independent investigation into these troubling accusations.

The Governor has acknowledged the need for an outside review. However, the administration’s selection of former federal Judge Barbara Jones, who has an excellent reputation and is highly respected, but with a former association with Steve Cohen, former secretary and most recent defender of the Governor, could obfuscate the issue especially when there are bipartisan calls for a true independent investigation.”

STATE SENATOR JOSEPH GRIFFO (R)

“Every allegation of sexual misconduct must be taken seriously. Those were the governor’s own words when a sitting senator faced similar charges in 2018. Now an independent, unobstructed investigation looking into claims against the governor must commence immediately.

“Additionally, I repeat my call for the end of the governor’s emergency executive powers. One man should no longer be granted the authority to suspend laws and impose unwarranted mandates on our state, especially when facing multiple investigations for his own actions.”

STATE SENATOR PETER OBERACKER (R)

“In 2018, Andrew Cuomo demanded then-Judge Kavanaugh submit to a lie detector test and said victims must be believed. We don’t need another one of his infamous whitewashed reports. These serious and disturbing allegations indicate a pattern of abuse that must be investigated outside of the governor’s reach. We have an independently elected AG for a reason–Attorney General Tish James needs to do her job.”

NYSGOP CHAIRMAN NICK LANGWORTHY

Tonight’s New York Times story 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.

His alleged predatory actions are egregious and if the account is accurate, they have crossed the line. Within a single week, two brave individuals have come forward to share their stories of working for this man.

Governor Cuomo now more than ever must be investigated. We reiterate our original request and demand Attorney General Letitia James appoint a Special Prosecutor to review all of these recent allegations.

JOINT STATEMENT FROM SENATORS PAM HELMING (R), DAPHNE JORDAN (R), PATTY RITCHIE (R), SUE SERINO (R), AND ALEXIS WEIK (R)

As I previously stated, all allegations of harassment must be taken seriously. A truly independent investigation is warranted.

ASSEMBLY SPEAKER CARL HEASTIE (D)

“Everyone deserves to have their voice heard and taken seriously. I support an independent review.” 

LT. GOV KATHY HOCHUL (D) 

“These incidents of sexual harassment and pattern of abuse are abhorrent and have absolutely no place in our society, let alone the highest rungs of government,” said Reed. “Such behavior is disturbing and unacceptable. Governor Cuomo must be held accountable under the law to ensure justice is served.”

CONGRESSMAN TOM REED (R) 

“New Yorkers have seen detailed, documented accounts of sexual harassment, multiple instances of intimidation, and the admitted withholding of information on the deaths of over 15,000 people.

Questions of this magnitude cannot hang over the heads of New Yorkers as we fight off a pandemic and economic crisis. It’s clear what must now take place.

The State legislature must immediately revoke the Governor’s emergency powers that overrule local control. In addition, two fully independent investigations must be held immediately into the deaths at nursing homes and the disturbing personal misconduct allegations.

Precedence shows that investigations of the Governor must be completely independent of his office. The investigation into nursing home deaths must be free to examine campaign contributions from the nursing home industry. And the investigation into sexual misconduct must be led by someone fully independent of the governor, not the former business partner of the Governor’s top advisor.

2021 must be a year of progress and recovery. These efforts for transparency must be met.”

NEW YORK CITY MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO (D)

This is a disturbing pattern of behavior.  We start by believing these courageous women. There must be a serious independent investigation, victims heard, truth sought and justice served.  If true, the Governor is not fit to serve. He must resign or be removed from office. 

DUTCHESS COUNTY EXECUTIVE MARC MOLINARO (R)

“The women who have come forth with allegations against the Governor deserve to have their voices heard, and I believe the situation warrants an independent investigation so that we may all know the facts of what has taken place.”

SENATOR ANNA M. KAPLAN (D)

“I consider the Governor a friend. He has done and continues to do a lot of good for the people of our State. Nonetheless, these are serious allegations that require a fair, thorough and independent investigation. An independent investigation will best serve those making the allegations, the Governor and the people of the State of New York.”

NEW YORK STATE DEMOCRATIC PARTY CHAIRMAN JAY S. JACOBS

“These allegations are serious and deeply concerning. As requested by Attorney General James, the matter should be referred to her office so that she can conduct a transparent, independent and thorough investigation with subpoena power.

U.S. SENATOR KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND

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