Andrew Cuomo: AOC calls for independent investigation into sexual harassment claims

Governor is accused of making inappropriate comments to women working for him

Graig Graziosi
Sunday 28 February 2021 16:55
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Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has called for an independent investigation into the sexual harassment claims made against New York Governor Andrew Cuomo.

Ms Ocasio-Cortez made the comments on Twitter, naming the two women who have come forward with stories of alleged harassment by the mayor.

"Lindsey Boylan and Charlotte Bennett’s detailed accounts of sexual harassment by Gov. Cuomo are extremely serious and painful to read," she wrote. "There must be an independent investigation – not one led by an individual selected by the Governor, but by the office of the Attorney General."

The New York Times published the details of a second accuser, Ms Bennett, on Saturday, which kicked off a spate of criticism from Democrats aimed at Mr Cuomo. The governor received blowback for choosing to appoint a former federal judge with close ties to one of his friends as the head of his internal review into the allegations.

Some Democrats have called for the review to be helmed independently, while others have called for Mr Cuomo to resign.

New York State Senator Alessandra Biaggi issued a frank statement on Saturday night in which she called the scandal "unacceptable" and said the details of Mr Cuomo's alleged actions towards the women was the "epitome of a hostile work environment".

She also praised the women who came forward to share their stories.

"I commend the courage of Ms Bennett and Lindsey Boylan for coming forward. The harassment experienced by these former staffers is part of a clear pattern of abuse and manipulation by the Governor, and that pattern makes him unworthy of holding the highest office in New York," she wrote.

Ms Biaggi was more frank about her feelings toward the governor in a tweet earlier that evening.

Ms Bennett claimed that Mr Cuomo made inappropriate comments and suggestions to her in the workplace, including questioning her about her sex life, telling her he would be open to dating women in their 20's, and openly wondering if she had ever slept with older men.

Mr Cuomo issued a statement on Saturday responding to the allegations saying Ms Bennett "has every right to speak out" and that the interactions were misunderstood. He said he was trying to mentor Ms Bennett and that he never made passes at her or had any intention "to act in any way that was inappropriate".

“I believe the best way to get to the truth is through a full and thorough outside review and I am directing all state employees to comply with that effort,” Mr Cuomo said.

Journalist Glenn Greenwald called Mr Cuomo's investigation a "scam" and said the its results should be ignored.

"Gov. Cuomo's scam of pretending to request an "independent investigation" to be conducted by someone he handpicks – who just happens to be a crony of one of his closest aides – shouldn't be taken seriously by anyone. You don't get to select your own "'independent investigator,'" he wrote.

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