UPDATE: The New York State Assembly said Thursday will start an impeachment investigation into embattled New York Governor Andrew Cuomo over a half dozen reports of alleged sexual harassment and a controversy over nursing home deaths.
The Democratic-controlled Assembly said its judiciary committee will be given broad authority to investigate the allegations of inappropriate behavior – the latest, revealed yesterday, was referred by a state official to the Albany police. “The reports of accusations concerning the governor are serious,” the said Assembly speaker Carl Heastie. He has indicated that he wouldn’t not move ahead with an actual impeachment without the support of a majority of his Democratic conference.
Earlier Thursday, 59 Democrats in the State Legislature, including the Senate, issued a statement demanding Cuomo’s immediate resignation.
Previously: A report that New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo late last year groped an aide at the Executive Mansion where he lives was referred by a state official to the Albany Police Department.
“As a matter of state policy when allegations of physical contact are made, the agency informs the complainant that they should contact their local police department. If they decline, the agency has an obligation to reach out themselves and inform the department of the allegation,” Gov. Cuomo’s chief counsel Beth Garvey said in a statement.
“In this case, the person is represented by counsel and when counsel confirmed the client did not want to make a report, the state notified the police department and gave them the attorney’s information,” Garvey said.
A spokesman for the Albany police, Steven Smith, was not immediately available to comment. However, he told the New York Times today that this does not mean the department has opened a criminal investigation. He said the police department has not received a formal complaint from the alleged victim herself but has offered her its services.
The Times Union of Albany first reported the latest allegation against the governor on Wednesday. It said a supervisor noticed that the aide — who did not report the incident and has not been named — became emotional while watching an address by the governor on March 3 where he denied inappropriate contact with other women who had come forward. She then told the supervisor about her own encounter.
Five other women over the past month have publicly accused the governor of inappropriate behavior and sexual harassment.
Cuomo has apologized for making the women uncomfortable. He flatly denied the more serious allegations and attributed others to misunderstandings and, in one case, a political vendetta. He apologized for any pain he had caused but said he had no idea and was never told he made anyone uncomfortable.
“I have never done anything like this,” he said in response to the most recent report. “The details of this report are gut-wrenching. I am not going to speak to the specifics of this or any other allegation given the ongoing review, but I am confident in the result of the attorney general’s report.”
New York AG Letitia James’ office this week hired outside attorneys to lead an investigation into the allegations against Cuomo. This latest report was also sent on to her office.
Some New York lawmakers and politicians are calling for Cuomo’s resignation, including New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.
“The specific allegation that the governor called an employee of his, someone who he had power over, called her to a private place and then sexually assaulted her is absolutely unacceptable. It is disgusting to me,” de Blasio said at a press briefing Thursday. “He can no longer serve as governor. It’s as simple as that.”
The other women are Ana Liss, who worked in the governor’s office from 2013 to 2015, and said he called her “sweetheart,” kissed her hand once and asked if she had a boyfriend. Karen Hinton, who worked for Cuomo when he was Secretary of Housing and Urban Development under former President Bill Clinton, said he called her to his hotel room in 2000 and attempted to embrace her.
Two other former aides, Lindsey Boylan and Charlotte Bennett, have accused the governor of inappropriate and harassing behavior. Another woman, Anna Ruch, who never worked for him, described Cuomo forcibly holding her face and kissing her at a wedding reception.