Update (Aug. 3, 5:15 p.m.): Two more very notable parties have commented on Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s status—Lt. Governor Kathy Hochul and President Joe Biden. Biden acknowledged he had not read the Attorney General report but that he knew the end results and thought Cuomo should leave office promptly. Hochul called Cuomo’s behavior documented in the report “repulsive” but said that since she would be in line to take over if Cuomo is removed, she stopped short of saying anything further.

Original story:

TOMPKINS COUNTY, N.Y.—On the heels of Attorney General Tish James’ report regarding allegations of sexual harassment against Gov. Andrew Cuomo, NYS Assemblymember Anna Kelles (D), who represents the 125th District, said she stands by her earlier calls for Cuomo to leave office. Kelles also said there is enough evidence to begin impeachment proceedings. NYS Senator Tom O’Mara (R) separately voiced his sentiment that Cuomo must leave office immediately.

Kelles had issued a letter, along with 58 other statewide Democrats in the State Assembly and State Senate, calling for Cuomo’s resignation in March as six women came forward accusing him of sexual misconduct. James’ report validated those six accounts, while finding five additional women who said that they had been treated inappropriately by the governor. Further, the report says that the Executive Chamber in Albany fostered a hostile, toxic work environment.

James’ report, available to read in full here, serves as the latest damning blow to Cuomo’s tenure, which saw him attain nationwide popularity at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in spring 2020. However, that quickly soured to widespread calls for him to leave office as scandals mounted between sexual harassment allegations and questions regarding his nursing home policies and transparency over the number of deaths in New York nursing homes due to COVID-19.

“Upon completion of our independent investigation into allegations of sexual harassment brought against Governor Andrew Cuomo and the surrounding circumstances, we have reached the conclusion that the Governor sexually harassed a number of State employees through unwelcome and unwanted touching, as well as by making numerous offensive and sexually suggestive comments,” James’ report concludes. “In addition, we conclude that the culture of fear and intimidation, the normalization of inappropriate comments and interactions, and the poor enforcement of the policies and safeguards, contributed to the sexual harassment, retaliation, and an overall hostile work environment in the Executive Chamber.”

In a statement published after James held the press conference to present her findings, Kelles said the governor clearly “failed to follow his own sexual harassment policy” and that he should be held accountable. Further, she said that she would support impeachment proceedings if they were to begin against the governor, saying there “is enough evidence for articles of impeachment.”

“The Attorney General’s report released today offers abundant evidence that the Governor sexually harassed numerous women and failed to follow his own sexual harassment policy,” Kelles wrote. “It is incredibly difficult to read through the Attorney General’s report and understand the full extent to which the Governor has abused his position of power. I stand by my original statement in February that should the credible allegations against the Governor prove truthful, then he should be held fully accountable. As a state we have endured and are continuing to endure a severe public health, social and economic crisis and we, as a state, will unite behind truth as the findings of state and federal investigations continue to unfold. We deserve leadership that shines in every aspect of their service and holds honor, equity, and integrity during times of crisis as well as times of stability and prosperity.”

Following that, O’Mara weighed in, commending James’ report and lambasting the Cuomo administration for its conduct. He also said that impeachment proceedings should begin in the State Assembly.

“The Attorney General’s investigation should mark the end of the Cuomo administration and a disgusting chapter in New York State government,” O’Mara wrote. “This thorough, independent investigation makes it clear that Andrew Cuomo is not fit to hold public office. It leaves him standing, no matter how he will try to lie about it now, without a shred of credibility, honesty, integrity, or trust. Governor Cuomo needs to resign.”

Sen. Chuck Schumer and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand both also reiterated their calls for Cuomo to resign in a joint statement.

Cuomo held a press conference after James’ session in order to respond to the findings, during which he outright denied all the allegations and claimed that him being accused of sexual misdeeds undercut the stories of real victims. There was also a brief slideshow of pictures showing Cuomo kissing a series of public officials and people, meant to illustrate that his behavior was culturally normal.

The report itself is 168 pages of detailed accounts from Cuomo’s accusers and others, including previously unreported allegations surrounding the harassment of a New York State Police trooper. The overall findings include allegations of Cuomo touching women inappropriately on a number of occasions, making suggestive or unwelcome comments, and more.

Additionally, according to the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, the Albany District Attorney has confirmed an ongoing criminal investigation into Cuomo’s conduct, though details are scant.

Cuomo’s office also published a point-by-point response on his website. His official video response is below.

Matt Butler

Matt Butler is the Managing Editor at the Ithaca Voice. He can be reached by email at mbutler@ithacavoice.org.