- By Steve Bittenbender | The Center Square contributor/March 9th, 2021
(The Center Square) – New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he was not familiar with a new accusation of sexual harassment leveled against him, which the Albany Times Union reported Tuesday. However, he told reporters that if anyone ever felt “uncomfortable or awkward,” then it was news to him.
According to the Times Union, another staff member raised an allegation that Cuomo touched her inappropriately while she was working at the governor’s mansion last year. The woman, whom the paper did not name, becomes the sixth person over the last two weeks to give details of their encounters with the governor.
The allegations include both suggestive conversations, where asked staffers personal details about their love lives, as well as inappropriate touching. He’s previously dismissed the talk as just “friendly banter,” which he says he does with men and women. However, he’s said that he’s touched no one inappropriately, which he repeated Tuesday.
“No one ever told me that at the time that I made them feel uncomfortable or awkward,” he said. “Women have a right to come forward. … Let’s find out what the facts were. You can allege something. Might be true, might be not true. You may have misperceived. There may be other facts. So, let’s get the facts and that’s what the investigation does. And that’s what the attorney general is doing.”
Cuomo was also asked by reporters about the differences in his case and that of former Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. The governor called for – and received – Schneiderman’s resignation in May 2018. At the time, four women accused Schneiderman of physically assaulting them.
In response, Cuomo said there are “a spectrum of allegations,” ranging from physical attacks to “more minor allegations.”
The governor also declined to answer whether he was reconsidering a run for reelection next year, saying he was just focused on doing his job as governor.
“Let’s get the facts, and then we can have a discussion on the facts,” he said.
However, with the sexual harassment allegations as well as an investigation into how his office handled COVID-19 deaths in nursing homes, Cuomo continues to face calls for him to resign immediately.
Assemblyman Richard Gottfried, the longest-serving member of the Legislature, was the latest Democrat to add his name to those saying the governor should step down.
“Multiple and growing credible allegations of sexual harassment and recent reports detailing the cover-up of the true COVID-19 death toll in nursing homes are extremely disturbing and make it clear that Governor Cuomo is no longer the right governor for New York,” said Gottfried, the chairman of the Assembly Health Committee, in a statement. “It is clear that it is best for New York for Governor Cuomo to resign.”
While members of both parties have supported calls for Cuomo to step down, thus far it’s largely been Republicans calling for impeachment.
Senate Minority Leader Rob Ortt, R-North Tonawanda, issued a statement after Cuomo’s call, saying his aggressive behavior on calls with reporters make it clear he’s trying to bully more people from coming forward.
He added that the most recent allegation happened just months ago gives more credence to charges that Cuomo exhibits predatory behavior.
“This state needs a leader, and every day Andrew Cuomo remains in office is a day the people of this state are deprived of effective and honest government,” Ortt said in a statement. “All options are on the table, and as public servants we must put the interests of New Yorkers first. We all deserve better.”