NY state, local leaders react to results of Cuomo sexual harassment investigation

Cuomo Crisis
Andrew Cuomo

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks during a news conference at New York’s Yankee Stadium, Monday, July 26, 2021. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

NEW YORK — Several New York leaders and politicians have spoken out on the findings that Gov. Andrew Cuomo sexually harassed multiple current and former state government employees. 

The nearly five-month investigation, conducted by two outside lawyers who spoke to 179 people, found that the Cuomo administration was a “hostile work environment” and that it was “rife with fear and intimidation,” state Attorney General Letitia James said Tuesday. 

Following the release of the findings, many local and state officials, both Democratic and Republican, have spoken out, many calling for the governor to resign.

“My first thoughts are with the women who were subject to this abhorrent behavior, and their bravery in stepping forward to share their stories. The Attorney General’s detailed and thorough report substantiates many disturbing instances of severe misconduct. Andrew Cuomo committed sexual assault and sexual harassment, and intimidated a whistleblower. It is disqualifying.

It is beyond clear that Andrew Cuomo is not fit to hold office and can no longer serve as Governor. He must resign, and if he continues to resist and attack the investigators who did their jobs, he should be impeached immediately.”

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio

“No elected official is above the law. The people of New York deserve better leadership in the governor’s office. We continue to believe that the Governor should resign.”

U.S. Senators Kirsten Gillibrand and Charles Schumer

“Attorney General James conducted a thorough and revealing investigation that yielded disturbing conclusions about the conduct of Governor Cuomo. It is now the duty of the New York State Assembly to take swift and appropriate action and move forward with impeachment proceedings if the Governor will not resign.”

NYC Democratic Mayoral Candidate, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams

“He was so quick to be judgmental. And now the weight of evidence is clearly against Cuomo.  He could do us all a big favor by resigning now.”

“He should resign now and let his lieutenant governor take charge.”

NYC Republican Mayoral Candidate Curtis Sliwa

Sexual harassment is unacceptable in any workplace, and certainly not in public service. The Attorney General’s investigation has documented repulsive and unlawful behavior by the Governor towards multiple women. I believe these brave women and admire their courage coming forward.

No one is above the law. Under the New York Constitution, the Assembly will now determine the next steps.

Because Lieutenant Governors stand next in the line of succession, it would not be appropriate to comment further on the process at this moment.

Lt. Governor Kathy Hochul

“The Attorney General’s investigation confirmed today what we’ve known since the first courageous women came forward with their experiences – the Governor repeatedly, with intent and without care for the pain he caused or concern for consequences, sexually harassed multiple women, violating the law and the standards which we must demand, especially of our elected officials. A thorough, independent process documented these patterns of abuse, creating a space for voices to be heard while many were trying to silence or ignore them. I thank the women who came forward to reveal these truths and seek justice in the face of the deflections, denials, and excuses by the Governor and those he empowered. There is no excuse. And there can be no denying the need for justice. 

Andrew Cuomo has acted for his entire career with abusive impunity, but his shamelessness cannot equate with immunity. He created a culture of abuse which he has long employed to evade accountability, but the creation of that culture itself demands accountability. He cannot continue to serve as Governor, and must resign immediately or be impeached expeditiously.”

NYC Public Advocate Jumaane Williams

We have received the Attorney General’s 168 page report containing findings of sexual harassment and misconduct committed by Governor Cuomo. The findings contained in the report are disturbing. The details provided by the victims are gut-wrenching. Our hearts go out to all the individuals who have had to endure this horrible experience. The conduct by the Governor outlined in this report would indicate someone who is not fit for office.

The report has been forwarded to the members of the Judiciary Committee as well as all members of the Assembly. We will now undertake an in-depth examination of the report and its corresponding exhibits with our Assembly counsels as well the legal firm we have retained to assist us. We will have more to say in the very near future.”

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie

“As Attorney General Letitia James’ office’s investigation has confirmed, Andrew Cuomo’s behavior is abhorrent and absolutely unacceptable. I called for Gov. Cuomo to resign in March, and it is clear now, based on the information presented to the attorney general’s office and corroborated by independent counsel, Andrew Cuomo is unfit to serve in his current capacity.

It is in the best interest of the people of New York state for Gov. Cuomo to immediately resign and if he refuses to do so, the Legislature should take the necessary and immediate steps to have him impeached and forcibly removed from office.

The women who came forward and bravely shared their experiences must be acknowledged and commended. Only through their incredible courage have we been able to arrive at the truth.”

ASSEMBLY MINORITY LEADER WILL BARCLAY

“Today is a sad and sobering day for all New Yorkers.  The Attorney General’s findings confirm and reinforce the allegations brought by the brave women who came forward against a powerful figure — that Andrew Cuomo is a serial harasser, unfit to hold public office. In the wake of another devastating report, now more than ever Andrew Cuomo must resign. If he fails to do so, the legislature must immediately reconvene to take action to remove him.

New Yorkers have already been subjected to far too many lies, scandals and misdeeds perpetrated by this Governor and his associates. It is time to bring this sad, tawdry and corrupt chapter in New York’s history to a close, and to restore decency, honesty, and accountability to our state’s highest office. New York is facing profound challenges, ranging from a wave of violence in our streets, to a badly battered economy.  To effectively address these challenges, we need a change in leadership as quickly as possible. 

I must also commend the Attorney General and her team for refusing to be intimidated by this Governor. From the very beginning, Andrew Cuomo and his associates attempted to bully, undercut, and undermine the Attorney General — all as part of an effort to prevent her from doing her job.  From attempting to block the initial referral to the Attorney General’s office, to the intimidation of potential witnesses, to the blatant attempts to smear her integrity and motivations, this Governor left no stone unturned in his efforts to prevent the truth from being discovered. 

While this will undoubtedly go down as a dark day in New York’s history, we must now take steps to ensure that it will also be remembered as an important turning point that restores accountability and trustworthiness to state government.” 

SENATE GOP LEADER ROB ORTT

We are reviewing the Attorney General’s extensive report documenting sexual harassment and misconduct committed by Governor Cuomo. The findings are extraordinarily disturbing. The details provided by the victims are repugnant.

The report is being studied by the members of the Judiciary Committee and every member of the Assembly. We are engaged in an intensive analysis of the report and its exhibits with our Assembly counsels and with our independent counsel, Davis Polk & Wardwell.

This is a difficult day for the People of the State of New York.  I am deeply impressed with the professionalism and dedication of Attorney General James and counsel Joon Kim and Anne Clark.

ASSEMBLYMEMBER CHARLES LAVINE, WHO IS LEADING THE IMPEACHMENT INVESTIGATION

Today’s report by the New York State Attorney General is confirmation that Governor Cuomo is guilty of sexual harassment. The details in that report are even more disturbing than we could have imagined. The courageous young women who put their careers and reputations on the line in telling their stories are vindicated and have done an important service to our state and to women everywhere.

“Now that the Attorney General has conducted the due diligence that the Governor himself asked for, he needs to resign immediately. If he refuses, the Democrat-led majorities in the Senate and Assembly must demonstrate the leadership this moment demands and begin impeachment proceedings.”

SEN. GEORGE BORRELLO

“Andrew Cuomo must resign or be impeached. Cuomo institutionalized widespread abuse within his administration and tried to silence his many victims, which enabled him to continue openly preying on those around him. Over the last few months, Cuomo has continued his attempts to undermine the investigations into his wrongdoing and those carrying them out, and I have no doubt he will continue to do so following the release of the report.

It’s up to all of us to hold him accountable. Governor Cuomo must resign, and if he doesn’t resign, Democrats running the State Legislature in Albany must impeach him. If they don’t impeach him, we must hold Governor Cuomo and every single person who has enabled him accountable at the ballot box on Election Day 2022. Whether it’s the deadly nursing home order and coverup, his absurd $5.1 million self-congratulatory book deal, or rampant sexual harassment, abuse, and intimidation, New York needs new leadership to restore our state to glory, rather than govern scandal to scandal. New Yorkers need a Governor who will put their priorities first, not prioritize self-preservation in the face of endless misconduct. This is a crisis of leadership, and it’s up to every New Yorker to hold Cuomo accountable and save our state.”

REP. LEE ZELDIN

Investigators said they found all 11 women were credible, noting that their allegations were corroborated to varying degrees, including by other witnesses and contemporaneous text messages.

The governor remained defiant, saying in a taped response to the findings that “the facts are much different than what has been portrayed” and that he “never touched anyone inappropriately or made inappropriate sexual advances.”

New York state regulations say sexual harassment includes unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature — from unwanted flirtation to sexual jokes — that creates an offensive work environment, regardless of a perpetrator’s intent.

The governor, in contrast, has repeatedly argued that he did not intend to harass anyone. His office has said he took the state’s mandated sexual harassment training, but has not provided any documentation proving he did.

Cuomo championed a landmark 2019 state law that made it easier for sexual harassment victims to prove their case in court. Alleged victims no longer have to meet the high bar of proving sexual harassment is “severe and pervasive.”

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