An aide to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo publicly accused the prominent Democrat of sexual harassment Friday — the first allegation brought forth by a current staff member — plunging the embattled governor further into scandal sparked by multiple harassment allegations and his handling of data regarding deaths in nursing homes during the coronavirus pandemic.
Per the New York Times:
He called her and her co-worker “mingle mamas.” He inquired about her lack of a wedding ring, she said, and the status of her divorce. She recalled him telling her she was beautiful — in Italian — and, as she sat alone with him in his office awaiting dictation, he gazed down her shirt and commented on a necklace hanging there. In the latest allegation against Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, Alyssa McGrath, an employee of the governor’s office, described a series of unsettling interactions with the governor, telling The New York Times that Mr. Cuomo would ogle her body, remark on her looks, and make suggestive comments to her and another executive aide. […] Over the last three years, Ms. McGrath said, the governor had seemingly fostered an unusual work triangle with her and her friend, the co-worker he allegedly groped, blending a professional relationship with unwanted attention. There was paternalistic patter, but also a commandeering, sometimes invasive physicality.
In an interview with the Times, McGrath said Cuomo’s cozy conduct toward her often made her feel uncomfortable and bewildered.
“He has a way of making you feel very comfortable around him, almost like you’re his friend,” she told the newspaper. “But then you walk away from the encounter or conversation, in your head going, ‘I can’t believe I just had that interaction with the governor of New York.’”
McGrath’s lawyer, Mariann Wang, said of Cuomo, “this would be unacceptable behavior from any boss, much less the governor,” continuing, “The women in the executive chamber are there to work for the State of New York, not serve as his eye candy or prospective girlfriend.”
To date, eight women have accused Cuomo of harassment and unwanted touching — all allegations that the governor vehemently denies.
“[T]he governor has greeted men and women with hugs and a kiss on the cheek, forehead, or hand. Yes, he has posed for photographs with his arm around them. Yes, he uses Italian phrases like ‘ciao bella,’” Cuomo lawyer Rita Glavin said in response to McGrath’s claims. “None of this is remarkable, although it may be old-fashioned. He has made clear that he has never made inappropriate advances or inappropriately touched anyone.”
Despite Cuomo’s denials, the governor faces sustained calls to resign, which have been made by top Democrats such as Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA).
“Due to the multiple, credible sexual harassment and misconduct allegations, it is clear that Governor Cuomo has lost the confidence of his governing partners and the people of New York,” Schumer and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) recently said in a joint statement. “Governor Cuomo should resign.”
Cuomo has urged New York Attorney General Letitia James’ independent investigation into the allegations to play out before making a decision on stepping aside.
McGrath came forward with her allegations hours after Times revealed that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is investigating whether Cuomo aides provided false data regarding the number of deaths in the state’s nursing homes during the pandemic.