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State Senate leader says Cuomo must resign; governor says ‘no way’

file photo/Office of the Governor

The leader of the New York State Senate, Andrea Stewart-Cousins, is calling on Gov. Andrew Cuomo to resign and the Assembly Speaker says the governor should consider voluntarily stepping down, after two new allegations of inappropriate behavior from more women over the weekend.

But Cuomo says he has no plans to voluntarily leave office, and he says he has too much important work to so, to let the accusations “distract” him.

“Every day there is another account” of “allegations about sexual harassment, a toxic work environment” and questions over the governor’s handling of nursing home death data during the COVID-19 pandemic," said Stewart-Cousins. She said the growing distractions are impeding the business of government.

“For the good of the state, Governor Cuomo must resign,” she said.

The Assembly Speaker, Carl Heastie, in a statement, stopped short of calling for Cuomo’s resignation, but said it i time “for the governor to seriously consider whether he can effectively meet the needs of the people of New York.”

A defiant Cuomo, in a conference call with reporters just before the leaders weighed in, called the charges against him, including two new allegations of inappropriate behavior, “irrelevant” until the state’s Attorney General, Tish James, completes an investigation.

“No, there is no way I resign,” said, Cuomo, who said he deserves “due process” while the AG probe continues. “I’m not going to be distracted by this either. We have to get a budget done in three weeks. We have a lot of work to do.”

Cuomo’s remarks are in contrast to a contrite apology he issued on March 3, saying he was sorry if his behaviors unintentionally caused any misunderstanding or harm to his accusers.

The governor attacked as a liar one of the women, former aide Karen Hinton. She claims in the Washington Postthat Cuomo inappropriately hugged her after calling her to private meeting in his hotel room.

“What she said is not true,” said Cuomo. “She has been a long time political adversary of mine, highly critical for many, many years, and has made many, many accusations.”

Hinton also worked as a press secretary to Cuomo adversary New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio. She wrote a scathing op-ed in the New York Daily News in late February, taking both men to task for what she said was their bad behavior toward women.

Former aid Ana Liss told the Wall Street Journal that Cuomo inappropriately touched her at a reception and kissed her hand while at the office. Liss said she came to see it as patronizing behavior and told the paper she was viewed as “just a skirt” by the governor and other top officials in his office.

Cuomo did not deny Liss’s accusations, but he said it is customary for him to kiss and hug people at public events, and that he often engages in “friendly banter” with employees about their dating habits.  

Cuomo also addressed the growing number of female politicians, including state Sen. Alessandra Biaggi and Rep. Kathleen Rice, who have also called on him to resign. The governor said they are just playing politics.

“I have a news flash there is politics,”  Cuomo said with a laugh.

Cuomo said he was elected by the people of the state of New York and politicians who are his critics don’t get to “override elections.”

Karen DeWitt is Capitol Bureau Chief for New York State Public Radio, a network of 10 public radio stations in New York State. WBFO listeners are accustomed to hearing DeWitt’s insightful coverage throughout the day, including expanded reports on Morning Edition.
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