- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 24, 2021

A former staffer for New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo penned a blog Wednesday alleging that sexual harassment and bullying is so pervasive in his administration that it’s “not only condoned but expected.”

“I’m compelled to tell my story because no woman should feel forced to hide their experiences of workplace intimidation, harassment and humiliation — not by the Governor or anyone else,” Lindsey Boylan, a former New York government official, wrote in a Medium post.

Mr. Cuomo has come under intense bipartisan criticism over his handling of the state’s nursing homes during the coronavirus pandemic and his administration’s reported intimidation of the lawmakers who criticize him. 

Rep. Elise Stefanik, New York Republican, urged Mr. Cuomo to resign on Wednesday, calling him a “criminal sexual predator.”

“Sexual harassment and sexual abuse in the workplace is not a political issue, it is about right and wrong. Governor Cuomo must immediately resign,” she said. 

Ms. Boylan first accused Mr. Cuomo of sexual harassment in December after it was reported that then-President-elect Joe Biden was considering the governor as U.S. attorney general. She declined to detail her experience at the time, tweeting only that he sexually harassed her “for years” and that many people knew about it.

Mr. Cuomo‘s office said at the time that there was “no truth” to Ms. Boylan‘s claims. Three women who previously worked for the governor also told the Albany Times-Union at the time that they never witnessed any harassment.

In her post Wednesday, Ms. Boylan alleged several instances in which Mr. Cuomo made her feel uncomfortable, including when he suggested that they “play strip poker” following a October 2017 event.

“Governor Andrew Cuomo has created a culture within his administration where sexual harassment and bullying is so pervasive that it is not only condoned but expected,” she wrote. “His inappropriate behavior toward women was an affirmation that he liked you, that you must be doing something right. He used intimidation to silence his critics. And if you dared to speak up, you would face consequences.”

Ms. Boylan said she was serving as chief of staff for Empire State Development in 2016 when she first met Mr. Cuomo. She said she complained to friends at the time that he would “go out of his way to touch me on my lower back, arms and legs” and that she would purposely avoid being alone with him.

She said the worst offense was in 2018, after she was promoted as a special adviser to Mr. Cuomo, and the governor allegedly kissed her without her consent.

“I tried to excuse his behavior. I told myself ‘it’s only words.’ But that changed after a one-on-one briefing with the Governor to update him on economic and infrastructure projects,” she wrote. “We were in his New York City office on Third Avenue. As I got up to leave and walk toward an open door, he stepped in front of me and kissed me on the lips. I was in shock, but I kept walking.”

“I know some will brush off my experience as trivial,” she added. “We are accustomed to powerful men behaving badly when no one is watching. But what does it say about us when everyone is watching and no one says a thing?”

Ms. Boylan said she spoke with at least three former staffers who made similar allegations and that “there are many more of us” who are too afraid to come forward.

New York state Sen. Alessandra Biaggi, a Democrat who is seeking to strip Mr. Cuomo of his emergency powers, said she believed Ms. Boylan‘s claims because she “witnessed similar behavior” by the governor.

“I have no doubt that this is true,” Ms. Biaggi tweeted. “I’ve witnessed similar behavior, and it’s unacceptable. While the abuse lies mainly with the abuser, the abuse also extends to those who help keep it silent. They are complicit too.”

Mr. Cuomo‘s office released a new statement Wednesday calling the allegations “simply false.”

“As we said before, Ms. Boylan‘s claims of inappropriate behavior are quite simply false,” the statement read.

In relation to the strip poker reference, which allegedly happened on an October 2017 flight, the governor’s office said at least four aides who traveled with Ms. Boylan that month denied ever hearing the comment. 

“We were on each of these October flights and this conversation did not happen,” the aides said in a joint statement.

The Boylan allegations come after multiple Democratic lawmakers and journalists have reported being intimidated or threatened by the Cuomo administration.

Democratic Assemblyman Ron Kim said his recent criticism of Mr. Cuomo‘s nursing home controversy earned him an angry phone call last week from the governor, who allegedly threatened to “destroy” his career.

Cuomo is an abuser,” Mr. Kim said. “He has abused his powers. And abusers are cowards.”

“The bullying is nothing new,” said Democratic New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio. “The threats, the belittling, the demand that someone change their statement right that moment — many, many times I’ve heard that and I know a lot of other people in the state that have heard that.”

Rich Azzopardi, a senior Cuomo adviser, defended the governor’s behavior in a statement Monday to The New York Times.

“Yes, they have seen him get impatient with partisan politics and disingenuous attacks, and New Yorkers feel the same way,” Mr, Azzopardi said. They know you must fight to change the status quo and special interests to make progress, and no one has made more progress than this governor.”

• Dave Boyer contributed to this article.

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