Claims of Sexual Harassment Could Be Fatal for Cuomo (Opinion)
Based on the dirt there is on Governor Andrew Cuomo, to the chagrin of Republicans, I haven't seen enough to sway a Democratic majority in Albany to force him to step down. However, if the latest charges of sexual harassment end up being believable, this could be real trouble for New York's Gov.
Former aid Lindsey Boylan said Cuomo repeatedly made inappropriate comments to her, including telling her, "Let's play strip poker," according to NBC News.
"Today I am telling my story. I never planned to share the details of my experience working in the Cuomo administration, but I am doing so now in hopes that it may make it easier for others to speak their own truth," Boylan Tweeted on Wednesday.
The progressive New Yorker, who worked for the Cuomo Administration back in 2015-18, and is now a candidate for Manhattan Borough President, wrote an essay posted on Medium.com entitled, My Story of Working for Governor Cuomo "Let's Play Strip Poker."
"Governor Andrew Cuomo has created a culture within his administration where sexual harassment and bullying is so pervasive that it is not only condoned but expected. His inappropriate behavior toward women was an affirmation that he liked you, that you must be doing something right. He used intimidation to silence his critics. And if you dared to speak up, you would face consequences," she wrote in the essay.
Boylan said her first uncomfortable encounter with the Governor happened on a January 6, 2016 "event at Madison Square Garden to promote the new Pennsylvania Station-Farley Complex project. After his speech, he stopped to talk to me. I was new on the job and surprised by how much attention he paid me," she wrote.
"My boss soon informed me that the Governor had a “crush” on me. It was an uncomfortable but all-too-familiar feeling: the struggle to be taken seriously by a powerful man who tied my worth to my body and my appearance."
Boylan says that the uncomfortable encounters with Cuomo came to a peak in 2018.
"We were in his New York City office on Third Avenue. As I got up to leave and walk toward an open door, he stepped in front of me and kissed me on the lips. I was in shock, but I kept walking," she wrote.
She said the incident created a situation that was unbearable and she finally gave her resignation in September of 2018.
Boylan's essay is more than just her claims. She includes copies of emails and text messages in her op-ed in order to add credence to her claims.
"I had complained to friends that the Governor would go out of his way to touch me on my lower back, arms and legs. His senior staff began keeping tabs on my whereabouts. “He is a sexist pig and you should avoid being alone with him!” my mother texted me on November 4, 2016.
It's been a rough year so far for Governor Cuomo, especially after enjoying months of approval ratings that at one point reached higher than 80-percent. Now, with the nursing home debacle, a current aid misspeaking and implicating the administration in a nursing home numbers cover-up, and the alleged verbal attack on Assemblyman Ron Kim, the trouble is mounting for Governor Cuomo.
His approval ratings have dropped significantly and the recent events have put him in the unusual position of having to play defense with a once friendly press. Meanwhile, up until now, the Governor has had the protection of a Democratic super majority in the New York Legislature, but sexual harassment accusations like this over an extended period of time is traditionally the one issue that Democrats don't tolerate, especially during this current "Me Too" period we've been in for the last few years. And let's be honest, there are plenty of reports out there that say this governor isn't just a bully to women and people OUTSIDE his party. There are people, who claim to be allies, that say they've been pushed around by Andrew Cuomo at one time or another. How eager will these people be to stand up in support of him?
Let's be fair. These accusations could be exaggerated or even untrue. Everybody deserves the right to tell their side of the story and right now Cuomo's people are saying these things never happened. One thing is absolutely for sure, there's blood in the water and Andrew Cuomo's standing in New York has been greatly damaged. I'm not sure he will survive this one and I'm certain, if another bad accusation comes out any time soon, his days as governor will be over.
Editorial by Bill Keeler, WIBX Morning Show Host