New allegations arrived this week from a former aide, Lindsey Boylan, who says Cuomo kissed her with out her consent, steered a recreation of strip poker whereas on a enterprise journey and made different inappropriate feedback.
Because the governor scrambled to cope with the fallout from that scandal, certainly one of his high cupboard members was in a standoff Thursday with state lawmakers over the opposite: The revelation that his administration for months did not report the deaths of 1000’s of nursing house sufferers who had been hospitalized with Covid-19.
That controversy mushroomed final week when Assemblymember Ron Kim (D-Queens) mentioned Cuomo referred to as him and threatened to destroy his profession over his nursing house criticism, drawing consideration to Cuomo’s lengthy historical past of hardball techniques some describe as bullying and abusive.
Cuomo’s rising physique of detractors now encompasses Republicans, progressives, good authorities sorts and ladies’s rights advocates, amongst others. To his critics, the 2 controversies will not be unrelated.
“Sexual harassment is a type of energy abuse, and whenever you piece it it altogether— the hidden however now public harassment and what we’ve already seen in broad daylight by Cuomo— you possibly can put collectively a profile of the form of energy abuser he actually is,” mentioned Erica Vladimer, a former legislative staffer who accused her then-boss of sexual harassment and co-founded an advocacy group to handle a tradition of such habits in Albany.
Not like questions over his coverage choices, mates and foes alike have referred to as the brand new assaults on Cuomo’s character self-inflicted. His determination to name and berate Kim — and Kim’s determination to air it publicly — opened a floodgate for others with comparable experiences, mentioned New York’s GOP chair Nick Langworthy, throughout a Thursday dialogue the occasion hosted just about along with his counterpart in California.
“Cuomo made a really massive mistake in doing this as a result of Assemblyman Kim took the age previous recommendation on the best way to deal with a bully, which was that he fought again, punched again, and in doing so, impressed many others to recount their very own tales of inappropriate and abusive habits by this governor,” Langworthy mentioned.
The allegations have been sufficient to drive Cuomo’s Emmy-winning briefings off the air, at the very least for a day: The governor scrapped a digital press convention that had been deliberate for Wednesday as an embattled administration and weary workers pivoted to a brand new kind of disaster nearly precisely a yr after the primary Covid-19 case was discovered within the state.
For a governor who has been a lot within the public eye over the past yr, his silence in latest days has been conspicuous.
“The second requires one thing aside from hiding again, however he’s not there but,” mentioned an administration official.
Cuomo is a self-proclaimed gearhead and fix-it man, however a sexual misconduct allegation isn’t one thing that may simply be shut down with a political machination or a pivot. “‘The automotive broke down and I’m going to get it going?’ Effectively, that’s not the proper metaphor [for now],” the official mentioned.
Mayor Invoice de Blasio, one other frequent foe, on Thursday joined calls from each Republicans and fellow Democrats for an unbiased probe into the sexual harassment allegations.
“These allegations are actually disturbing,” he informed reporters. “We want a full and unbiased investigation. I need to emphasize the phrase ‘unbiased’ investigation — by some particular person or entity that isn’t compromised, just isn’t one thing that’s dominated by the governor’s workplace, however an unbiased investigation, as a result of that is simply unacceptable.”
Cuomo’s ballot numbers have already suffered from the nursing house scandal. His job approval ranking was right down to 48 % in a Marist ballot launched this week. Solely 36 % of registered voters mentioned Cuomo deserves to be re-elected to a fourth time period, whereas 58 % mentioned it’s “time to elect another person.” That survey got here out earlier than Boylan revealed her harassment account.
“He’s not lifeless but, however he’s taken a large hit. I believe New Yorkers are paying consideration in a manner they haven’t earlier than,” mentioned Republican marketing consultant Jessica Proud.
“It’s exhausting to see the trail out of this for him. He’s somebody that can actually dig his claws in, and I don’t suppose he’ll resign of his personal volition,” she mentioned. “He’ll primarily be a non-functioning governor.”
Any effort to take down Cuomo, nonetheless, will face its personal obstacles. Regardless of mounting requires an investigation into the harassment allegations, there isn’t a clear roadmap for such a probe. Albany’s fundamental investigatory physique, the Joint Fee on Public Ethics, is basically managed by the governor.
Some have referred to as for an investigation by state Lawyer Basic Tish James or particular prosecutor she might appoint. She, too, has been a Cuomo ally, however has just lately asserted her independence: It was her investigation that first revealed the state undercounted nursing house deaths by about 50 %. The state’s high Republican lawmakers despatched a letter Wednesday requesting an investigation into the harassment claims.
It’s unclear what James may do, ought to she resolve to have interaction. The workplace of New York’s legal professional common has large jurisdiction to weigh in on state ethics issues, however these have traditionally been assumed on a situational foundation. A spokesperson for James’ workplace mentioned they’re reviewing the letter from GOP lawmakers, however didn’t remark additional.
Advocates for anti-harassment reforms are calling for a standing referral — both from the Legislature or the chief — giving the legal professional common the ability to research, situation experiences and, the place obligatory, prosecute circumstances of sexual misconduct.
That will give extra readability for who ought to deal with this and some other civil or legal investigations that may come up sooner or later, mentioned Zephyr Teachout, a Fordham legislation professor and Cuomo critic who has run for each governor and legal professional common on Democratic strains.
“In Albany, sexual misconduct, silencing and retaliation has gone hand in hand with corruption,” she mentioned. “People who find themselves harassed in Albany repeatedly really feel trapped as a result of the locations they could flip to complain are all deeply intertwined with energy constructions.”
“Clearly I’ve been criticizing Andrew Cuomo for a very long time,” Teachout added. “However this second is completely different due to the extent of nationwide publicity.”
If Cuomo follows by means of on his plans to run for re-election subsequent yr, no clear challenger has but emerged.
The governor beat again main challengers on his left in 2018 and 2014, and observers say that to have a shot subsequent yr, a rival Democrat would have to have the ability to make inroads amongst voters of shade in New York Metropolis.
“The one candidates who might beat him are individuals who might beat him in his base,” mentioned Democratic marketing consultant Rebecca Katz, who labored on Cynthia Nixon’s 2018 marketing campaign. “New York Metropolis held very robust for Cuomo. And if any progressive challenger goes to come back near beating him, they should beat him in New York Metropolis.”
James and Williams are seen as among the many strongest potential challengers, however neither has mentioned but if they may run.
“I’m not centered on that,” mentioned Williams, who narrowly misplaced a bid for lieutenant governor in opposition to Cuomo’s No. 2, Kathy Hochul, in 2018.
Williams mentioned the newest revelations concerning the governor’s techniques are “not new nor stunning.”
“They’ve simply been hidden in plain sight for thus lengthy,” he informed POLITICO. “It has not gotten the publicity that was positively warranted for a lot of, a few years. And if it had, New York state may simply be in higher form.”