Following three accusations of sexual harassment and misconduct, Republicans and Democratic state lawmakers are calling for a full, independent investigation of Gov. Andrew Cuomo, and in some cases resignation.
On March 1, Senate Minority Leader Robert Ortt held a press briefing in Albany and called for the resignation of Gov. Andrew Cuomo amid his recent controversies.
“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,” said Ortt, who leads the 20 Republicans in the state Senate.
“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.”
Governor Cuomo has come under fire in recent days with allegations of sexual misconduct from three separate women: Charlotte Bennett, Lindsey Boylan, and Anna Ruch.
Bennett and Boylan were former aides to the governor; Ruch was a guest at a wedding where Cuomo, also a guest, allegedly tried to pressure her into kissing him.
Additionally, the governor is still facing a backlash from his administration’s handling of COVID in senior citizen homes in the early days of the pandemic.
Ortt asked Monday: “How can the needs of New Yorkers come before the needs of this administration as they deal with cooperating with these two investigations?”
The state budget is due April 1, giving the governor and lawmakers just over three weeks to somehow close a $15 billion budget deficit, a difficult task even without the shadow of two investigations.
Ortt, R-North Tonawanda, heads the conference of 20 Republican senators.
In light of the nursing home investigation and the more recent allegations of sexual harassment, Ortt is calling on the governor to resign from his post and calling for Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul to take over that position.
“I think it’s going to be very difficult for the governor and for the two houses to negotiate a budget. It was going to be hard anyways. This is going to be a tough budget year as it was. And now you have this added cloud.”
Cuomo is facing criticism from fellow Democrats as well.
State Senators Julia Salazar and Jabari Brisport, and Assembly members Emily Gallagher, Phara Souffrant Forrest, Zohran Mamdani, and Marcela Mitaynes — self described “Socialist Democrats — are calling for impeachment proceedings.
“The accounts of sexual harassment from the women who have courageously come forward confirm what many in Albany have known for years, that Governor Cuomo uses his power to belittle, bully and harass his employees and colleagues,” the lawmakers said in a joint statement issued Tuesday.
“The accounts add to recent revelations of gross misconduct. It is time for the Legislature to demand accountability,” the statement continues. “Impeachment proceedings are the appropriate avenue for us to pursue as legislators to hold the Governor accountable for his many abuses of power and remove him from office.”
Other Democrats are asking for the Attorney General’s investigation to proceed as soon as possible.
“The allegations as reported amount to a pattern of unacceptable behavior by the governor. I have no tolerance for sexual harassment in the workplace — or anywhere — and I support all victims,” said Sen. John Mannion, D-Geddes. “I believe that the fair and independent investigation must move forward and deliver the public report as quickly as possible.”
Boylan, a former aide for Gov. Cuomo, published an essay in Medium last week detailing her work experience. She describes unwanted touching, Gov. Cuomo suggesting to play a game of strip poker and stepping in front of her to kiss her on the lips as she was leaving his office.
Boylan’s accusations were followed by Charlotte Bennett, another former aide to Cuomo, recounting in The New York Times her work experience and that it included questions about her sex life, whether or not she is monogamous in her relationships and if she has ever been with an older man.
Gov. Cuomo released a statement Sunday denying the allegations saying, “I never intended to offend anyone or cause any harm. I spend most of my life at work and colleagues are often also personal friends.
“To be clear I never inappropriately touched anybody and I never propositioned anybody and I never intended to make anyone feel uncomfortable, but these are allegations that New Yorkers deserve answers to,” said Cuomo, who has also called for an outside, independent review of the allegations.
New York State Attorney General Letitia James is formally proceeding with her investigation.