The floodgates open on New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and calls to resign pour out from big names

The floodgates open on New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and calls to resign pour out from big names
Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaking at the New York Transit Museum on Jan. 8, 2016, MTA

At the beginning of the day Friday, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, now the subject of sexual harassment allegations from six women, faced an impeachment investigation and calls to resign from more than half of the state legislature. Things got worse for him from there.

Within the space of minutes, 11 members of New York's congressional delegation called for Cuomo to resign. Rep. Kathleen Rice had already done so. She's now joined by Reps. Jerry Nadler, Jamaal Bowman, Mondaire Jones, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Carolyn Maloney, Yvette Clarke, Nydia Velazquez, Grace Meng, Antonio Delgado, and Adriano Espaillat.

Cuomo had long been known to be a bully, but he was successful in his bullying—it was something discussed privately, or alluded to only very carefully in public. Then Lindsey Boylan, a former aide, came forward with detailed allegations that he, among other things, "would go out of his way to touch me on my lower back, arms and legs," for a long period, eventually kissing her against her will. Boylan's account was followed by that of another former aide, Charlotte Bennett, who said that, after Cuomo asked her detailed personal questions including whether she had ever had sex with an older man (she had played middle school sports against Cuomo's daughter), "I understood that the governor wanted to sleep with me, and felt horribly uncomfortable and scared. And was wondering how I was going to get out of it and assumed it was the end of my job." Next came Anna Ruch, who said that within minutes of meeting Cuomo at a wedding, she had to remove his hand from her lower back and was then stunned as he put his hands on her face and asked if he could kiss her.

Cuomo's fourth accuser, Ana Liss, is another former staffer, who offered a similar account to Boylan and Bennett, including inappropriate questions and inappropriate touching, though not to the extent Boylan described. "I'm not claiming sexual harassment per se. I'm just saying that it wasn't a safe space for young women to work or for women in general," Liss said. A fifth accuser described an "inappropriate" and "unethical" hug 21 years ago. And the sixth accuser remains unidentified, but apparently still works in Cuomo's administration and says that he groped her last year.

Nadler kept his statement purely to the sexual harassment allegations against Cuomo, saying "The repeated accusations against the Governor, and the manner in which he has responded to them, have made it impossible for him to continue to govern at this point." Nadler called for due process in investigations that could lead to criminal charges, but concluded "Governor Cuomo has lost the confidence of the people of New York. Governor Cuomo must resign."

In a joint statement, Ocasio-Cortez and Bowman focused on the sexual harassment allegations—which, they noted, include two sexual assault allegations—saying "The fact that this latest report was so recent is alarming, and it raises concerns about the present safety and well-being of the administration's staff." Ocasio-Cortez and Bowman also cited "the extensive report from the Attorney General that found the Cuomo Administration hid data on COVID-19 nursing home deaths from both the public and the state legislature" in joining—as they emphasized—55 members of the state legislature in calling for his resignation.

Jones' call for Cuomo's resignation was more wide-ranging, touching on not only sexual harassment and the nursing home deaths, but his handling of vaccination site locations and "an alleged cover-up of potential structural defects in the Mario M. Cuomo Bridge." By contrast, Delgado's statement was terse, describing "a culture of aggression that is unfit to lead." Not as terse as Espaillat, though, who simply tweeted "It is time for Governor Cuomo to resign."

Meng: "The mounting sexual harassment allegations against Governor Cuomo are alarming. The challenges facing our state and New Yorkers are unprecedented, and I believe he is unable to govern effectively. The Governor should resign for the good of our state."

Velazquez: "As one brave victim after another has come forward, it has become undeniable that Governor Cuomo has sexually mistreated women, abused his office, and lost the trust of the public to lead."

Maloney: "We have come a long way, but now is the time to finally ensure that this generation's courage stops harassment once and for all."

Clarke: "These troubling allegations have reached a level that I believe impedes Governor Cuomo's ability to serve the people of New York State to the best of his abilities."

At this point, a majority of the House Democrats from New York have called on Cuomo to resign. Additionally, the Long Island Democrats in the state Senate have jointly called on Cuomo to "step aside" for the duration of the state attorney general's investigation into the sexual harassment allegations, allowing Lieutenant Gov. Kathy Hochul to take over during that time, while one state senator said the entire state Senate Democratic delegation wanted him to resign.

Cuomo has thus far responded belligerently to calls for him to resign. Will this tip him over? It's hard to see what he thinks he can accomplish under these circumstances.

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