Officials across the Mid-Hudson Valley are calling for the immediate resignation or removal of Governor Andrew Cuomo from office after an independent investigation commissioned by State Attorney General Letitia James found the governor allegedly harassed multiple women over a seven-year period from 2013-2020.
The independent investigators, Joon H. Kim and Anne Clark, released a report Tuesday after completing a five-month investigation that found that Governor Cuomo sexually harassed multiple women including former and current state employees through unwanted groping, kissing, hugging and making inappropriate statements.
“Further, the governor and his senior staff took actions to retaliate against at least one former employee for coming forward with her story,” James said. “Finally, the Executive Chamber fostered a toxic workplace that enabled harassment to occur and created a hostile work environment. The investigators find that Governor Cuomo’s actions and those of the Executive Chamber violated multiple state and federal laws, as well as the Executive Chamber’s own written policies.”
The investigation began on March 1, 2021, when the Executive Chamber made a referral for Attorney General James to select independent lawyers to investigate sexual harassment claims made against the governor. Kim and Clark were selected to lead the investigation on March 8, 2021.
“This is a sad day for New York because independent investigators have concluded that Governor Cuomo sexually harassed multiple women and, in doing so, broke the law,” James said. “I am grateful to all the women who came forward to tell their stories in painstaking detail, enabling investigators to get to the truth. No man no matter how powerful can be allowed to harass women or violate our human rights laws, period.”
Local officials on both sides of the aisle called for Cuomo’s resignation or for his removal from office should he refuse to resign.
“The Attorney General’s report is clear — Governor Andrew Cuomo’s actions were not only morally reprehensible but also violated multiple state and federal laws,” Democratic Ulster County Executive Pat Ryan said. “The governor is unfit for public office and must resign immediately.”
Ulster County Comptroller March Gallagher, also a Democrat, called for Cuomo to resign immediately and recounted her own experience of workplace sexual harassment. “As a woman who experienced sexual harassment while working in the public sector — and spoke out about it at great personal and professional cost — I am deeply shaken by Attorney General Leticia James’s findings that Governor Cuomo engaged in a pattern of sexual harassment, particularly targeting young women in and around his office,” Gallagher said in a prepared statement. “I no longer have confidence that Mr. Cuomo can lead the 177,000 residents of Ulster County, or the great state of New York.”
State Senator Michelle Hinchey (D-Saugerties) also demanded the Governor’s resignation.
“The Attorney General’s report has confirmed that the Governor’s behavior is not only a disturbing abuse of power but also a clear violation of both state and federal law,” Hinchey said. “This proves that the Governor is unfit to hold the highest office in our state. The people of New York deserve better.” I thank the women who bravely came forward despite an environment of intimidation.”
State Senator Mike Martucci (R-C-I New Hampton) whose district covers parts of Ulster, Orange and Delaware counties, and all of Sullivan County agreed Cuomo is unfit for public office and called for the governor’s immediate resignation.
“The disturbing evidence of sexual harassment detailed by the Attorney General and her investigators at today’s press conference confirms what I already believed to be true — Andrew Cuomo is utterly unfit to continue to serve as Governor of our great state,” Martucci said in a press release. “If he has any shame he ought to resign immediately. If he refuses to do so, the State Assembly must finally do its job and impeach him.”
Senate Republican Leader Robb Ortt said the time is now to bring this “sad, tawdry and corrupt chapter in New York’s history to a close and to restore decency, honesty and accountability to our state’s highest office.”
He commended James and her team for “refusing to be intimidated by Cuomo. “From the very beginning, Andrew Cuomo and his associates attempted to bully, undercut and undermine the Attorney General — all as part of an effort to prevent her from doing her job,” Ortt said. “From attempting to block the initial referral to the Attorney General’s office, to the intimidation of potential witnesses, to the blatant attempts to smear her integrity and motivations, this Governor left no stone unturned in his efforts to prevent the truth from being discovered.”
New York State United Teachers President Andy Pallotta said in a prepared statement that the report shows the governor is unfit to serve in office. “The attorney general has detailed conduct that is repugnant and indefensible in any workplace and especially in the state’s highest elected office,” he said.
Multiple women came forward starting in December 2020 with allegations that Cuomo had sexually harassed them, according to James. During the course of the investigation, investigators interviewed 179 individuals including complainants current and former members of the Executive Chamber, New York State Police additional state employees and others who interacted regularly with the governor, James said.
Investigators poured over more than 74,000 documents, emails, texts and pictures as evidence during the investigation, James said. That turned up multiple or former state employees or women outside of state service who were targets of the governor’s harassing conduct, the AG said.
Cuomo also said with the interviewers and answered questions under oath.
“While the governor denied the most serious allegations, the investigators found that he did so by offering blanket denials or that he had a lack of recollection as to specific incidents,” James said. “The investigators also found that the governor’s recollection stood in stark contrast to the strength, specificity and corroboration of the complainants, recollections, as well as the reports of many other individuals who offered observations and experiences of the governor’s conduct.”
The investigation also painted a picture of the Executive Chamber as a workplace rife with fear and intimidation that allowed the harassment to occur while creating a hostile work environment. Investigators said they also found that the governor himself and the Executive Chamber engaged in retaliatory behavior by trying to discredit and disparage a former employee that shared her story of harassment.
Investigators said these actions violated federal law, including Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the New York State Human Rights Law, and 42 U.S. Code 1983, in addition to the Executive Chamber’s own equal employment policies.
The AG’s office deputized Jennifer Kennedy Park, Abena Mainoo and Rahul Mukhi from the law firm Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP in addition to Joon H. Kim as Special Deputies to the First Deputy Attorney General to conduct the investigation and issue the report. A number of other attorneys from both Cleary Gottlieb and Vladeck served as Special Assistants to the First Deputy Attorney General in the investigation.