Today New York attorney general Leticia James announced the findings of a five-month investigation into claims that Gov. Andrew Cuomo sexually harassed multiple women.
The findings? Cuomo’s conduct was far worse than previously suggested in public allegations and the media. He sexually harassed, groped and retaliated against numerous women — then his office tried to cover it up.
The AG’s 168-page report tells of how Cuomo was found to have grabbed a staffer’s breast while giving her a hug, groped multiple women’s butts and even dragged his hand across the stomach and back of a female member of his security detail. He made sexually charged comments to women on many occasions, including informing a female state trooper that he was looking for a girlfriend who could ‘handle pain’.
Social media is alight with claims that this is finally the end of Gov. Cuomo’s political career. I hope they are right, but I am not as optimistic. The Cuomo political machine is strong in New York.
The AG previously found that Cuomo’s office undercounted COVID-19 deaths of nursing home residents after the governor instituted a policy forcing nursing homes to take in sick patients at the height of the pandemic. Cuomo refused to resign after that scandal — and while his national political star faded, he still seemed poised to win re-election.
Other Democratic governors and mayors across the country have provided a helpful playbook for Cuomo to follow. Many of them have openly flouted their own COVID-19 mandates to cries of hypocrisy from conservatives but no real consequences. Virginia governor Ralph Northam ignored calls from his own party to resign over an old yearbook photo showing him in blackface or a KKK hood. He merely apologized and moved on; his party was too weak to actually remove him from office. His lieutenant governor Justin Fairfax was similarly defiant in the face of sexual assault allegations and survived politically.
Unless New York Democrats have the guts and political willpower to impeach and remove Cuomo, he will likely try to stay in office as long as possible. He is certainly counting on the short-term memory of voters and his relative strength within the party.
Considering the shocking nature of his behavior and the evidence presented by the AG on Tuesday, I sure hope I am proven wrong. No one so loathsome — and who was found to have broken both federal and state laws — should hold the highest elected office in the state.