Andrew Cuomo resignation: Ten other political figures who have stepped aside in the #MeToo era

‘I didn’t realize the extent to which the line has been redrawn’, Andrew Cuomo says in announcing his resignation

Josh Marcus
San Francisco
Wednesday 11 August 2021 00:06
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White House praises 'courageous women' as Gov. Cuomo resigns amid sexual harassment allegations

New York governor Andrew Cuomo announced his resignation on Tuesday, following an investigation from the state attorney general that found nearly a dozen women had credibly accused him of sexual harassment and assault, as well as retaliation and creating a toxic work environment.

The prominent Democratic governor, who will leave the office in two weeks, said he took “full responsibility for his actions”, but also called the allegations “politically motivated” and “distractions” and denied doing anything he felt was inappropriate.

“In my mind, I have never crossed the line with anyone,” Mr Cuomo said during a press conference on Tuesday. “But I didn’t realize the extent to which the line has been redrawn.”

Mr Cuomo is the latest politician to resign following the rise of the #MeToo movement that was popularised in 2017.

Tarana Burke, who founded the movement in 2006, has emphasized it is important to look beyond the high-profile media, entertainment, and political figures who’ve been accused of misconduct.

"What we need to be talking about is the everyday woman, man, trans person, child and disabled person,” she told the BBC in 2020. “All the people who are not rich, white and famous, who deal with sexual violence on everyday basis.”

Nonetheless, the sheer number of political figures accused of sexual misconduct in the post-#MeToo era is staggering. By some accounts, more than 100 legislators have faced allegations of misconduct since.

Here are a number of other high-profile national politicians and officials who have stepped aside after being accused of sexual misconduct in the wake of the #MeToo era.

2021

Tom Reed, Republican, US representative for New York

Allegations: A former lobbyist said that during a 2017 networking trip in Minneapolis, Mr Reed unhooked her bra and moved a hand up her thigh, before a nearby colleague intervened to stop him.

Response: Mr Reed initially denied the encounter, but later said he believed the woman’s account and took “full responsibility” for his actions, which he said occurred while he was inebriated.

Where is he now: The New York Republican announced in March he wouldn’t seek reelection.

2019

Katie Hill, Democrat, former US representative for California

Allegations: In October 2019, the House Ethics Committee announced it was investigating the representative for allegedly having a sexual relationship with a male staffer. Ms Hill has said that her former husband, whom she described as abusive, made the allegation and leaked nude photographs of her to the conservative news site RedState as a form of revenge porn, both of which he denies.

Response: The California Democrat denied having a relationship with the staffer, but confirmed she had a relationship with a female campaign aide before being elected.

Where is she now: Ms Hill resigned in 2019, and has since written a book about her experience, sued media outlets that published her compromising photos, and founded a political action committee dedicated to electing women and young people.

Eric Schneiderman, Democrat, former New York attorney general

Allegations: In May 2018, four women accused the Attorney General, a former ally of the #MeToo movement who once prosecuted disgraced filmmaker and serial abuser Harvey Weinstein, of violently choking and hitting them.

Response: Mr Schneiderman denied the allegations, telling The New York Times: “In the privacy of intimate relationships, I have engaged in role-playing and other consensual sexual activity. I have not assaulted anyone. I have never engaged in nonconsensual sex, which is a line I would not cross.”

Where is he now: The prominent New York Democrat resigned in May 2018.

Eric Greitens, Republican, former governor of Missouri and current US Senate candidate

Allegations: In the spring of 2018, the Missouri House Oversight Committee investigated Mr Greitens for allegedly coercing his former hairdresser to engage in sexual conduct with him and using a nude photo as blackmail to keep her silent.

Response: “There was no hush money, no violence, no threat of violence, no blackmail,” the Missour Republican said in a TV interview at the time. “The mistake that I made was that I was engaged in a consensual relationship with a woman who wasn’t my wife. And it’s a mistake for which I’m deeply sorry.”

Where is he now: Mr Greitens resigned in 2018, and was indicted on federal invasion of privacy charges over the photo, though the case was later dropped due to a series of prosecutorial missteps. The former governor is now running for US Senate.

Al Franken, Democrat, former US Senator for Minnesota

Allegations: Eight women accused the Senator and former comedian of unwanted kissing or groping.

Response: The Minnesota Democrat denied the allegations.

Where is he now: Mr Franken resigned in early 2018, though he has since said he regrets doing so and wishes the Senate Ethics Committee had examined the allegations. Seven of the 36 fellow Democrats who called for his resignation have since said they regretted it.

Rob Porter, Republican, former White House staff secretary

Allegations: In 2018, the Daily Mail reported allegations that Trump White House official Rob Porter had abused his two ex-wives, leaving one with a black eye and another with a protective order against him.

Response: Mr Porter denied the allegations as “simply false”, and Mr Trump rallied behind him in the days that followed the news, tweeting, “There is no recovery for someone falsely accused – life and career are gone.”

Where is he now: The Republican aide resigned in February 2018.

Blake Farenthold, Republican, former US representative for Texas

Allegations: Blake Farenthold reportedly used $84,000 in taxpayer money to pay out a private sexual harassment and gender discrimination settlement to his former spokesperson, Lauren Greene.

Response: The Texas Republican denied the allegations.

Where is how now: Facing an impending ethics probe, Mr Farenthold resigned in April 2018. After previously promising to repay the $84,000 to the government, he has since said he will not do so.

Pat Meehan, Republican, former US representative for Pennsylvania

Allegations: At the beginning of 2018, news outlets reported that Mr Meehan used $39,000 in public money to settle a former aide’s harassment claim, which included allegations that he expressed feelings for her and harassed the young woman once he learned she was in a relationship.

Response: The Pennsylvania Republican denied the underlying allegations.

Where is he now: Mr Meehan resigned in April 2018.

2017

John Conyers, Democrat, former US representative for Michigan

Allegations: Multiple aides accused Mr Conyers, the longest serving Democrat in the House of Representatives, of sexual assault. One alleged victim received a $27,000 settlement.

Response: The Michigan Democrat denied the allegations.

Where is he now: Mr Conyers resigned in late 2017.

Trent Franks, Republican, former US representative for Arizona

Allegations: Two female staffers accused the Arizona Republican of asking them if they would be surrogate mothers for his children, allegedly offering one $5 million, and the colleagues reported worrying that Mr Franks intended to impregnate them through intercourse. He also allegedly created a hostile work environment, and retaliated against a woman in his office who denied his advances.

Response: Mr Franks said he discussed fertility with his colleagues, but denied the other allegations, and said he “absolutely never physically intimidated, coerced, or had, or attempted to have, any sexual contact with any member of my congressional staff."

Where is he now: The congressman announced at the end of December that he would resign, after the House Ethics Committee said it would investigate him for sexual harassment.

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