A former aide to Gov. Andrew Cuomo opened up on Monday about what she described as inappropriate behavior within the executive office.
Ana Liss spoke to PIX11 sister station WROC-TV in Rochester, New York and called out the governor’s “megalomania,” saying he created a toxic work environment within his administration.
Five women have now come forward accusing Cuomo of sexual harassment or acting inappropriately with them. Liss is one of the five.
“He approached me and hugged me and kissed my cheek put his hand around my waist, and we took that picture together and at the time I thought that was wonderful,” said Liss. “Everybody was talking about it — ‘oh the governor likes you and he thinks you’re cute.’”
Liss is a former aide who was placed in the executive office, assigned to work on economic development programs. While she stopped short of alleging Cuomo’s actions were sexual harassment, she said the governor was flirtatious and the environment he created was difficult to work in.
“It was toxic, it was retaliatory, it was hostile. There was screaming, there was name calling,” said Liss. “Young women early in our careers were powerless in that environment to stick up for ourselves and for our bodies.”
Liss said the governor’s actions made her “feel really nervous.”
“There was one occasion when I was asked if I had a boyfriend by the governor, those interactions at the time I thought were harmless, flirtations,” said Liss “I felt like a little bit objectified and not seen as a professional person.”
Liss said when the first accuser, Lindsey Boylan, came forward with her claims in December, Cuomo’s senior advisor Rich Azzopardi reached out and asked if Boylan had contacted her.
“When he hung up I remember thinking how many other people is he calling, why is he calling me,” said Liss.
Liss said a therapist helped her to understand that what happened was not OK. She said she now feels comfortable speaking out and encouraged other women to do the same.
She said she found the governor’s public apology last week to be lackluster.
“I think he was tone deaf and disrespectful,” said Liss. “It would be great for him to talk more in-depth and less flippantly about how he sees himself as a governor and as a man and how he views women in the workplace.”