As more accusers surface and calls for resignation mount, Governor Andrew Cuomo’s future looks bleak
There have now been seven women to come forward with accusations of harassment against the New York Governor.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo is once again in hot water — close to boiling.
In the early months of the pandemic, the New York governor was widely praised for his open news conferences and persistent requests for more medical equipment from the federal government.
But on Monday, Feb. 15, he acknowledged for the first time that his administration made a fatal error in misreporting coronavirus deaths in New York nursing homes.
It was discovered that his administration was responsible for transferring 9,000 recovering coronavirus patients back to nursing homes. This controversy alone led to bipartisan calls for resignation, and even impeachment.
Trust in Cuomo’s leadership abilities was already fading, but with the unsettling number of women who have come forward with detailed sexual harassment accuastions against the governor, his reputation is now close to completely tarnished.
So far, there have been seven different women who have reported experiences of harassment from Cuomo. The sixth woman, former aid Ana Liss, originally told her story anonymously through Gothamist, and later revealed her identity and story to the Wall Street Journal, which published it on March 6.
Liss, who is now 35 years old, received a competitive state fellowship that led her to work as a policy advisor in Cuomo’s Albany office between 2013 and 2015.
Liss took the job when she was in her 20s, and when she first arrived, she was invited to sit at a desk positioned right near the governor — in his “line of sight,” as she described it. Another woman in the office told Liss that she should invest in heels when Cuomo is around, as that is “the rule.”
She also recalled receiving kisses on the cheek, but at first she just thought of it as a fatherly gesture. Liss said it was preferable to the screams she would hear when one of the staff members would do something to upset Cuomo. She noticed that other women who didn’t fit the “archetype” would be bullied or mocked.
The Cuomo coverage is pretty triggering.
Powerful men have behaved like this throughout my lifetime. (“Powerful” being relative to their targets, not necessarily the world.)
I’m heartened the allegations are being taken seriously.
We used to have to shrug off these behaviors.
— Leah McElrath (@leahmcelrath) March 12, 2021
“I knew by looking cute, and not being obstinate or opinionated, and doing what I was told and looking polished... That is the only way I would survive there," Liss said.
When Liss spoke to the Wall Street Journal, she remembered brushing off Cuomo’s behavior as nothing more than harmless flirtations, but over time, she sensed an uncomfortable amount of patronizing. She started wishing she could be perceived as an educated professional, rather than “just a skirt.”
“It’s not appropriate, really, in any setting,” she said.
Today’s action by the New York state legislature will have no bearing on our independent investigation into these allegations against Governor Cuomo.
Our investigation will continue.
— NY AG James (@NewYorkStateAG) March 11, 2021
Compared to the other women who have come forward with troubling allegations, Liss’ story is mostly one of feeling uneasy and awkward around her superior who stopped seeing her as human, and rather saw her as a pretty object.
“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 and went on to say that this kind of condescending behavior that’s often directed at young women in professional settings is a form of what she called “megalomania.”
“When you feel powerful, you feel like you’re unimpeachable,” she said.
But no matter how powerful a person may be, no one is above reproach.
The pressure for Cuomo to resign is mounting. The state Assembly has authorized the judiciary committee to begin an impeachment investigation, and numerous New York state Democratic lawmakers have called for his resignation.
After two accounts of sexual assault, four accounts of harassment, the Attorney General’s investigation finding the Governor’s admin hid nursing home data from the legislature & public, we agree with the 55+ members of the New York State legislature that the Governor must resign. pic.twitter.com/jV5dwtuVPr
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) March 12, 2021
More than 50 Democrats released a joint statement on Thursday, arguing that Cuomo has “lost the confidence of the public,” and is “ineffective in this time of most urgent need.”
"In light of the Governor's admission of inappropriate behavior and the findings of altered data on nursing home COVID-19 deaths he has lost the confidence of the public and the state legislature, rendering him ineffective in this time of most urgent need," the group wrote.
The letter was signed by 19 state senators and 40 members of the State Assembly, including Democratic Assemblyman Ron Kim, who alleged last month that Cuomo threatened him and his career.
Cuomo said on Sunday that he has no plans to resign and has repeatedly denied any inappropriate touching of anyone. But as the investigation begins and the pressure builds, the governor may no longer have a say in his fate.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Thursday that Cuomo “just can’t serve as a governor anymore.” Though Democrats serving at the national level have been much more reserved in their responses. White House press secretary Jen Psaki said that “all women should be heard,” but declined to condemn Cuomo over the allegations.
All women should be heard, and all politicians should be held accountable.