USA TODAY US Edition
Probe sought of aide’s claims
Group: Cuomo accuser deserves to be heard
ALBANY, N.Y. – A bipartisan group of state lawmakers wants an independent investigation into allegations by a former aide to Gov. Andrew Cuomo that he sexually harassed her from 2016 through 2018.
Lindsey Boylan, a former economic development aide, posted an essay online Wednesday that contends Cuomo kissed her on the lips during a one-onone meeting in his office in 2018 and asked her to play strip poker. Cuomo’s office denied the claims. Assemblyman Harry Bronson, DRochester, said he’s a former employee rights attorney, and “I have represented far too many women who have been subjected to sexual harassment in the workplace.”
In a statement, he said, “Now that Ms. Boylan has put these claims forward, she deserves the opportunity to have her allegations thoroughly reviewed by an independent body and any appropriate steps taken upon those findings.” Government watchdogs have derided New York for not having a strong independent watchdog body to investigate potential wrongdoings at the state Capitol.
When Cuomo took office in 2011, he vowed to clean up Albany in the shadow of Eliot Spitzer’s resignation in 2008 for soliciting prostitutes. The Joint Commission on Public Ethics was established under Cuomo.
JCOPE has been criticized for being beholden to political leaders who appoint its members, including Cuomo.
“All credible allegations of sexual harassment must be taken seriously and given a thorough, transparent, and independent investigation,” Sen. Liz Krueger, D-Manhattan, said in a statement. “Unfortunately, the most obvious body to undertake such an investigation – JCOPE – is compromised and ineffective.”
“New York State’s total failure to have an independent ethics enforcement agency is a fundamental obstacle to government accountability,” the watchdog group Reinvent Albany wrote Wednesday on Twitter. “There are no independent, effective, ethics police in #Albany and it shows.”
If not JCOPE, the state Legislature has subpoena power and could launch its own probe into Boylan’s charges.
Five Republican senators wrote a letter Wednesday to state Attorney General Letitia James asking for a formal investigation into the allegations against Cuomo.
There was no immediate comment from James’ office.
The office has a civil rights bureau that could look into it and a public integrity unit. For James’ to do a full investigation, she would probably need a referral from Cuomo to investigate his office.