Bronx elected officials are calling for the removal of embattled Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo from his post, after the New York attorney general’s independent investigation released on Tuesday, found that Cuomo had sexually harassed multiple women and created a toxic work environment in state government.
According to the 165-page report, Cuomo harassed current and former state employees, as well as a number of women outside of state government and had violated state and federal law through his conduct.
Letitia James, New York’s attorney general, said that her investigation concluded that Cuomo created a “hostile work environment” for female staffers by engaging in “unwelcome and nonconsensual touching,” and making “suggestive” sexual comments to various women in both his employ and in other state agencies.
Cuomo has denied the allegations and called the investigation biased, saying during a taped speech on Tuesday, “I want you to know directly from me that I never touched anyone inappropriately or made inappropriate sexual advances.”
Democratic Assemblyman Kenneth Burgos, who represents the 85th District, said the findings of the report have all but sunk the three-term governor’s credibility.
Burgos also joined state and federal leaders by calling for an impeachment process if Cuomo does not step down.
“The report by the Attorney General’s office confirms that Governor Cuomo engaged in a disturbing pattern of monstrous and predatory behavior, and broke state and federal law. His actions have no place in politics or anywhere else,” Burgos said in a statement. “It has now been determined that the Governor has lost all credibility, and thus, is no longer fit to serve. I call for his immediate resignation. And if he refuses to step down, I am prepared to vote yes on impeachment proceedings.”
State Sen. Alessandra Biaggi, of District 34, said Tuesday’s report confirmed suspicions traced to reports from several aides last year that Cuomo had not only sexually harassed employees, but was also using his position to intimidate and silence victims.
“The report confirms what we already knew — the Governor has sexually harassed and intimidated employees while actively silencing the victims of his abuse and fostering a toxic and hostile work environment,” the Progressive said in a statement. I commend the brave women who came forward in the face of actual and potential retaliation … It is time for Governor Cuomo to face accountability for his actions.”
Biaggi, who chairs the Senate Ethics and Internal Governance Committee said that if Cuomo does not resign, she will call on
Democrat state Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie and the New York Assembly to move toward impeachment of Cuomo, immediately.
Heastie said in a statement after meeting with his conference on Tuesday “that the governor has lost the confidence of the Assembly Democratic majority and that he can no longer remain in office.” The Assembly now holds the authority within the state Legislature to determine Cuomo’s fate, by voting on whether or not to impeach the governor.
“Once we receive all relevant documents and evidence from the Attorney General, we will move expeditiously and look to conclude our impeachment investigation as quickly as possible,” he said.
James said that independent investigators spoke to 179 individuals, and reviewed 74,000 pieces of evidence before coming to a final reporter.
“We also conclude that the Executive Chamber’s culture — one filled with fear and intimidation, while at the same time normalizing the Governor’s frequent flirtations and gender-based comments — contributed to the conditions that allowed the sexual harassment to occur and persist,” investigators Joon Kim and Anne Clark wrote in the report. “That culture also influenced the improper and inadequate ways in which the Executive Chamber has responded to allegations of harassment.”
Democratic state Sen. Gustavo Rivera, of the Bronx’s 33rd Senate District, in a tweet on Tuesday, likened reports of Cuomo’s behavior to that of former President Donald Trump, who Cuomo engaged in a highly-publicized feud last year over the president’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“[Gov. Andrew Cuomo] is showing he is basically Trump but with a better fitting suit,” Rivera tweeted. “The way he is defending himself by painting himself as the victim is beyond outrageous.”
The investigation into sexual harassment allegations made against Cuomo, isn’t the only investigation the New York Attorney General’s office has launched against the governor.
In January, James unveiled her report of how the Cuomo administration handled nursing home deaths during the COVID-19 outbreak, finding the Cuomo administration undercounted the death of nursing home patients by about 50%.
On July 23, the U.S. Department of Justice announced it would not pursue an investigation
into whether Cuomo had mishandled COVID-19 outbreaks in state-run nursing homes.
James’ office is also investigating whether Cuomo used taxpayer money for the writing and roll out of his book, “American Crisis: Leadership Lessons from the COVID-19 Pandemic.”
-with reporting by Christian Falcone
Reach Robbie Sequeira at firstname.lastname@example.org or (718) 260-4599. For more coverage, follow us on Twitter @bronxtimes and Facebook @bxtimes.