Albany, NEW YORK: Governor Andrew Cuomo acknowledged for the primary time on Sunday (Feb 28) that a few of his behaviour with ladies had been “misinterpreted as undesirable flirtation”, and stated he would cooperate with a sexual harassment investigation led by the state’s legal professional basic.
In an announcement launched amid mounting criticism from inside his personal celebration, the Democrat maintained he had by no means inappropriately touched or propositioned anybody. However he stated he had teased folks and made jokes about their private lives in an try and be “playful”.
“I now perceive that my interactions might have been insensitive or too private and that a few of my feedback, given my place, made others really feel in methods I by no means meant. I acknowledge a number of the issues I’ve stated have been misinterpreted as an undesirable flirtation. To the extent anybody felt that means, I’m really sorry about that,” he stated.
He made the feedback after the state’s legal professional basic demanded Cuomo grant her the authority to research claims he sexually harassed not less than two ladies who labored for him.
Cuomo’s authorized counsel stated the governor would again a plan to nominate an outdoor lawyer as a particular impartial deputy legal professional basic.
Prime Democrats statewide gave the impression to be abandoning Cuomo in massive numbers as he tried to retain some say over who would examine his office conduct.
Legal professional Common Letitia James, a Democrat who has been, at instances, allied with Cuomo however is independently elected, appeared to emerge as a consensus alternative to steer a probe.
Over a number of hours on Sunday, she and different main celebration officers rejected two proposals by the governor that they stated may probably have restricted the independence of the investigation.
Beneath his first plan, introduced on Saturday night, a retired federal decide picked by Cuomo, Barbara Jones, would have reviewed his office behaviour. Within the second proposal, introduced on Sunday morning in an try and appease legislative leaders, Cuomo requested James and the state’s chief appeals courtroom decide, Janet DiFiore, to collectively appoint a lawyer to research the claims and concern a public report.
James stated neither plan went far sufficient.
“I don’t settle for the governor’s proposal,” she stated. “The state’s Government Legislation clearly offers my workplace the authority to research this matter as soon as the governor supplies a referral. Whereas I’ve deep respect for Chief Decide DiFiore, I’m the duly elected legal professional basic and it’s my duty to hold out this activity, per Government Legislation. The governor should present this referral so an impartial investigation with subpoena energy may be carried out.”
Most of the greatest names in New York politics lined up shortly behind James.
The state legislature’s two high leaders, Senate Majority Chief Andrea Stewart-Cousins and Meeting Speaker Carl Heastie, each stated they needed her to deal with the investigation.
New York’s two US senators, Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, each stated an impartial investigation was important.
“These allegations are critical and deeply regarding. As requested by Legal professional Common James, the matter must be referred to her workplace in order that she will conduct a clear, impartial and thorough investigation with subpoena energy,” Gillibrand stated.
White Home press secretary Jen Psaki stated, “There must be an impartial evaluate wanting into these allegations.” She stated that is one thing President Joe Biden helps “and we imagine ought to transfer ahead as shortly as potential”.
The requires an investigation into Cuomo’s office behaviour intensified after a second former worker of his administration went public on Saturday with claims she had been harassed.
Charlotte Bennett, a low-level aide within the governor’s administration till November, informed The New York Occasions Cuomo requested inappropriate questions on her intercourse life, together with whether or not she ever had intercourse with older males, and made different feedback she interpreted as gauging her curiosity in an affair.
Her accusation got here days after one other former aide, Lindsey Boylan, a former deputy secretary for financial improvement and particular adviser to the governor, elaborated on harassment allegations she first made in December. Boylan stated Cuomo subjected her to an undesirable kiss and inappropriate feedback about her look.
Cuomo, 63, stated in an announcement on Saturday he had meant to be a mentor for Bennett, who’s 25. He has denied Boylan’s allegations.
The furor over the sexual harassment allegations comes amid a brand new spherical of criticism over his management fashion and actions his administration took to guard his status as an early chief within the nation’s coronavirus pandemic.
Cuomo had received reward as a robust hand on the helm throughout final spring’s disaster of rising case counts and overflowing morgues. His ebook, “American Disaster: Management Classes from the COVID-19 Pandemic,” was revealed in October.
READ: Cuomo acknowledges withholding New York nursing home COVID-19 death toll from lawmakers, public
However in latest weeks his administration was compelled to revise its rely of COVID-19 deaths in nursing houses following criticism that it had undercounted the fatalities to blunt accusations that a few of his administration’s insurance policies had made the state of affairs within the houses worse.
James fueled a few of that criticism by issuing a report that raised questions on whether or not the Cuomo administration had undercounted deaths.
Cuomo was additionally criticised after a state Meeting member went public with a narrative of being politically threatened by Cuomo over feedback he made to a newspaper concerning the governor’s coronavirus management. Cuomo stated his feedback have been being mischaracterised.
Now, his help is eroding sooner.
“Lindsey Boylan and Charlotte Bennett’s detailed accounts of sexual harassment by Gov. Cuomo are extraordinarily critical and painful to learn,” US Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez stated on Twitter Sunday. “There have to be an impartial investigation — not one led by a person chosen by the Governor, however by the workplace of the Legal professional Common.”
A bunch of greater than a dozen Democratic ladies within the state Meeting stated in an announcement: “The Governor’s proposal to nominate somebody who will not be independently elected, has no subpoena authority, and no prosecutorial authority is insufficient.”