Amid sexual harassment allegations, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo on Sunday issued a broad apology for encounters that “may have been insensitive or too personal,” and things he had said that were “misinterpreted as an unwanted flirtation.”
At work sometimes I think I am being playful and make jokes that I think are funny. I do, on occasion, tease people in what I think is a good natured way. I do it in public and in private. You have seen me do it at briefings hundreds of times. I have teased people about their personal lives, their relationships, about getting married or not getting married. I mean no offense and only attempt to add some levity and banter to what is a very serious business.
I now understand that my interactions may have been insensitive or too personal and that some of my comments, given my position, made others feel in ways I never intended. I acknowledge some of the things I have said have been misinterpreted as an unwanted flirtation. To the extent anyone felt that way, I am truly sorry about that.
He denied inappropriate touching, propositioning anyone, and or intending to make anyone uncomfortable.
Former aide Lindsey Boylan had said that Cuomo kissed her without permission, suggested they play strip poker, and had a crush on her. Former aide Charlotte Bennett said that the governor groomed her for a possible sexual relationship, asked inappropriate questions about her love life, and when she was considering a tattoo, he suggested she get it in an certain intimidate area so no one would see it if she wore a dress.
After Bennett’s claims emerged on Saturday, the Cuomo administration engaged in a bit of see-sawing on how to address the mounting allegations. First, they announced a former federal judge would handle an “independent review,” but she used to work with a Cuomo aide. Lawmakers at both the state and federal level also demanded a legitimately independent investigation, some saying Cuomo should refer the matter to NY Attorney General Letitia James.
The administration then said they reached out to not only James, but also Janet DiFiore, chief judge of the New York Court of Appeals. They would choose an independent lawyer together. Again, this fell short of what critics wanted. Cuomo appointed DiFiore to her seat in December 2015. James rejected the proposal, saying she wanted an actual referral so investigators could get subpoena power under state law.
New:@NewYorkStateAG James turns up the heat again on the governor, issuing a clarification that she rejects Cuomo’s call to send the matter to the state’s chief judge (his appointee).
— Adam Klasfeld (@KlasfeldReports) February 28, 2021
Cuomo finally relented at the time he released his apology.
“The Governor’s office wants a thorough and independent review that is above reproach and beyond political interference,” his office said in a statement. “Therefore, the Governor’s office has asked Attorney General Tish James to select a qualified private lawyer to do an independent review of allegations of sexual harassment. The independent lawyer will be legally designated as a Special Independent Deputy Attorney General and granted all powers provided under Section 63(8) of the Executive Law. As necessary, other lawyers from the appointed lawyer’s firm shall be similarly designated to assist in the review. The lawyer shall report publicly their findings. The Governor’s office will voluntarily cooperate fully.”
[Image via David Dee Delgado/Getty Images]
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