San Francisco Chronicle
Cuomo breaks silence, vows to stay in office
ALBANY, N.Y. — New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Wednesday said he intends to remain in office in the face of sexual harassment allegations that have weakened his support and led to calls for his resignation.
The Democratic governor, speaking somberly in his first public appearance since three women accused him of inappropriate touching and offensive remarks, apologized and said that he “learned an important lesson.”
“I now understand that I acted in a way that made people feel uncomfortable,” Cuomo said. “It was unintentional and I truly and deeply apologize for it.”
Asked about calls for him to step aside, the thirdterm governor said: “I wasn’t elected by politicians, I was elected by the people of the state of New York. I’m not going to resign.”
Cuomo acknowledged “sensitivities have changed and behavior has changed” and that what he considers his “customary greeting” — an oldworld approach that often involved kisses and hugs — is no longer acceptable.
But the allegations against the governor go beyond aggressive greetings.
Former aide Lindsey Boylan accuses Cuomo of having harassed her throughout her employment and said he once suggested a game of strip poker aboard his stateowned jet. Another former aide, Charlotte Bennett, said Cuomo once asked her if she ever had sex with older men.
Both women rejected Cuomo’s latest apology, doubling down on their disgust after he issued a statement Sunday attempting to excuse his behavior as his way of being “playful.”
“How can New Yorkers trust you @NYGov Cuomo to lead our state if you ‘don’t know’ when you’ve been inappropriate with your own staff ?” Boylan tweeted.
Cuomo said he will “fully cooperate” with an investigation into the allegations being overseen by the state’s independently elected attorney general. Attorney General Letitia James, also a Democrat, is in the process of selecting an outside law firm to conduct the probe and document its findings.
Cuomo addressed the allegations during a news conference that otherwise focused on the state’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, the kind of briefings that made him a daily fixture on TV and a national star among Democrats.
Cuomo’s support has plummeted amid a onetwo punch of scandals, and even some Democrats have called on him to step aside. The harassment allegations follow accusations that Cuomo covered up the true COVID19 death toll on nursing home residents.
“I don’t think it’s in his DNA to resign or back down,” said Queens Assembly member Ron Kim, a Democrat who accused Cuomo of bullying him over the nursing home issue. “I think he will do whatever it takes to fight this.”