Many of New York’s LGBTQ lawmakers are echoing growing calls for Governor Andrew Cuomo to resign in response to numerous disturbing allegations of inappropriate behavior and sexual harassment.
Representative Sean Patrick Maloney of the Hudson Valley, who is chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, became the highest-ranking LGBTQ elected official in the state to call on the governor to step down when he issued a statement on March 12 — the same day that new allegations surfaced.
Congressmember Mondaire Jones of Westchester joined Maloney in calling for Cuomo’s resignation, but Congressmember Ritchie Torres of the Bronx did not immediately respond to Gay City News on March 12 when asked about his position on whether the governor should resign. EDITOR’S NOTE: Shortly after this story was posted, Torres issued a statement calling on the governor to resign and expressing support for Attorney General Letitia James’ investigation and the Assembly’s impeachment investigation.
“If the allegations of sexual assault are shown to be true, then criminal consequences must follow,” Torres said March 12. “Elected officials who commit sexual assault should be arrested and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Even though the governor has a right to due process, the widespread collapse of confidence among both the Congressional Delegation and the State Legislature has made the state no longer governable under his leadership. No governor can effectively run the state without the full confidence of his state and federal colleagues in government. While the governor is free to affirm his innocence and assert his right to due process, he must consider doing what is best not for himself but for the State of New York in a moment of crisis. Resignation is in the best interest of New York State.”
Among out LGBTQ state lawmakers, Assemblymember Harry Bronson of Rochester and State Senators Jabari Brisport of Brooklyn and Brad Hoylman of Manhattan have said the governor should resign. Assemblymember Daniel O’Donnell of Manhattan made it clear to Gay City News on March 12 that he also wants Cuomo to go.
“The Governor lost my support long ago, and I call on him to resign,” O’Donnell said in a written statement. “The egregious allegations against Governor Cuomo of a workplace rife with sexual misconduct and intimidation are deeply concerning, and emblematic of the Governor’s bullying, narcissism, and abuse of power. I have great respect for the attorney general, who will continue to oversee a thorough investigation to determine the full extent of the Governor’s inappropriate behavior. As her work continues, I support the investigation by the Assembly Judiciary Committee, which will work to determine the appropriate response, up to and including impeachment.”
However, Assemblymember Deborah Glick of Manhattan did not immediately respond to Gay City News’ request for comment on her position regarding the governor’s fate. On March 8, Glick signed onto a letter stating that “we believe that the attorney general will exercise due process and expediency in her deliberations… we request that she be allowed the appropriate time to complete her investigation…”
Multiple city lawmakers are adding their names to the list of elected officials encouraging the governor to step down. Speaker Corey Johnson — a candidate for city comptroller — also clarified his position, telling Gay City News on March 12 that the governor should resign.
“I applaud the courage of the women who have come forward,” said Johnson, who said on March 9 that he was “confident” in the state attorney general’s ability to conduct an investigation into the allegations facing Cuomo. “Previously, I expressed my support for the investigation being led by Attorney General Letitia James. I still believe that independent investigation must continue. But I also believe that the number and the nature of the allegations against Governor Cuomo has made it impossible for him to govern. Governor Cuomo should resign.”
Councilmembers Jimmy Van Bramer of Queens, who is running for borough president, and Carlos Menchaca of Brooklyn, a mayoral candidate, also called for the governor’s resignation.
Councilmember Daniel Dromm of Queens did not immediately respond to Gay City News’ request for comment.
The LGBTQ lawmakers are not alone in their calls for the governor to step aside. Shortly before 6 p.m. on March 12, both of the state’s US senators — Kirsten Gillibrand and Majority Leader Chuck Schumer — released a joint statement saying Cuomo “should resign, and the majority of New York congressmembers have also asked Cuomo to quit, including House Judiciary Chair Jerrold Nadler, House Oversight Committee Chair Carolyn Maloney, and Congressmember Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of the Bronx and Queens. Dozens of other lawmakers at different levels of government across the state have said it is time for Cuomo to pull the plug on his decade-long tenure as governor.
And yet, even as pressure mounted in Albany, the third-term governor struck a defensive tone during a press call on the afternoon of March 12, suggesting that he is a victim of “cancel culture” and insisting that he “did not do what has been alleged, period.”
Resignation isn’t the only question surrounding Cuomo’s political future. State Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie provided the go-ahead to the Assembly Judiciary Committee to launch an impeachment probe. Some lawmakers, including Brisport and Bronson, have expressed support for impeachment.
Cuomo, already under fire for a nursing home scandal that rocked the state, has faced an ongoing flow of accusations in the weeks since a former Cuomo aide, Lindsey Boylan, leveled allegations last month in a medium.com piece. Among the most recent cases involve journalist Jessica Bakeman, who said in a piece for New York Magazine that Cuomo touched her inappropriately in 2014 and said, “I’m sorry. Am I making you uncomfortable? I thought we were going steady.”
A woman named Kaitlin, whose last name was concealed, said she was at a fundraiser when Cuomo “grabbed me in kind of a dance pose” in order to take a photo, according to New York Magazine.
Separately, an individual whose name has not been revealed lodged an internal complaint accusing the governor of groping her last year when she was at the governor’s mansion.
Other allegations include one by Anna Ruch, who said Cuomo grabbed her and asked for a kiss at a wedding two years ago, according to the New York Times.
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