“We need to govern without daily distraction,” said Stewart-Cousins, citing the sexual misconduct allegations against Cuomo. “Governor Cuomo must resign.”
Stewart-Cousins is the most prominent state official to call for Cuomo’s resignation. Her statement carries significance as the Senate would be the jury for any impeachment trial of the governor if such an action would be passed by the Assembly. Democratic senators backed Stewart-Cousins on calling for Cuomo’s resignation.
Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie did not exactly call for Cuomo to resign, but suggested that it was time for him “to seriously consider whether he can effectively meet the needs of the people of New York.”
In 2008, Gov. Eliot Spitzer resigned during a prostitution scandal as he lost the support of New York’s legislative leaders.
Cuomo, however, adamantly resisted calls for his resignation, arguing that he was elected by the people and not “by politicians.”
“I’m not going to resign because of allegations,” Cuomo said, calling the notion “anti-democratic” and a violation of the due process clause of the Constitution. “There is no way I resign.”
Sixth woman accuses Cuomo of sexual misconduct
The call for Cuomo’s resignation grew louder as a sixth woman came forward to accuse him of sexually inappropriate conduct. The woman claimed that the governor touched her inappropriately during an encounter last year.
The alleged incident took place after the woman, a member of the governor’s Executive Chamber staff, had been summoned to Cuomo’s mansion to assist in a work-related matter. The woman’s supervisor recently became aware of the allegation and alerted the governor’s counsel of it on Monday, March 8. (Related: Fifth woman comes forward to accuse Cuomo of sexual assault, calls for his resignation.)
“All allegations that we learn of directly or indirectly are going promptly to the investigators appointed by the attorney general,” Cuomo’s acting counsel, Beth Garvey, said following the sixth allegation.
New York Attorney General Letitia James has appointed Joon Kim, the acting U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York for parts of 2017 and 2018, and employment lawyer Anne Clark to conduct the probe.
Two former aides also came forward over the weekend to accuse the Democrat of sexual misconduct.
Ana Liss, 35, worked as a policy aide to the governor between 2013 and 2015. She related that Cuomo sometimes greeted her with a hug and a kiss on both cheeks. Liss added that the governor called her “sweetheart,” kissed her hand and asked personal questions, including whether she had a boyfriend.
In an interview with WROC on March 8, Liss said she wasn’t sure if her interactions with Cuomo were sexual harassment but she deemed it as inappropriate.
“For me there was one occasion where I was asked if I had a boyfriend by the governor. Those interactions I thought at the time were harmless flirtations, and that’s how he is. Other women went along with it and reacted kindly and bashfully to that kind of treatment,” she said.
Liss knew her allegations were not similar to Cuomo’s other accusers, but she thought it would help establish a pattern of behavior.
“There were other women who were subject to much more explicit treatment than I was,” she said.
“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 women in general. There are women that didn’t fit the archetype or the stereotype that were mocked and demoted.”
Karen Hinton, 62, told the Washington Post on Saturday, March 6, that Cuomo once summoned her to his “dimly lit” hotel room and embraced her after a work event in 2000.
Hinton said she tried to pull away from Cuomo, but he allegedly pulled her back and held her before she managed to back away and escape the room.
The governor’s office denied that the incident in the hotel room ever took place.
Peter Ajemian, Cuomo’s director of communications, said that Hinton is a “known antagonist of the governor, who is attempting to take advantage of this moment to score cheap points with made up allegations from 21 years ago.”
“All women have the right to come forward and tell their story. However, it’s also the responsibility of the press to consider self-motivation. This is reckless,” Ajemian said.
Cuomo’s workplace conduct has been under intense scrutiny in recent days.
Former adviser Lindsey Boylan, 36, claimed that the governor made some inappropriate comments on her appearance, once kissed her on the lips at the end of a meeting and suggested a game of strip poker as they sat with other aides on a jet flight.
Another former aide, Charlotte Bennett, 25, said Cuomo had asked her invasive personal questions last spring about her sex life, including whether she had slept with older men and whether she thought age made a difference in relationships.
Cuomo’s “behavior” not limited to his staff
Even someone who didn’t work for Cuomo had experienced his inappropriate behavior.
Anna Ruch, 33, said Cuomo put his hands on her face and asked if he could kiss her after they met at a wedding.
In a news conference last week, Cuomo denied ever touching anyone inappropriately but apologized for behaving in a way that had upset the women he worked with. He said he’d made jokes and asked personal questions in an attempt to be playful and frequently greeted people with hugs and kisses, as his father, Mario Cuomo, had done when he was governor.
“I understand sensitivities have changed. Behavior has changed,” Cuomo said. “I get it and I’m going to learn from it.”
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