A former aide who's since accused New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo of sexual harassment reportedly said the Democrat’s spokesman called her during her honeymoon in an attempt at damage control as the scandal emerged.
Ana Liss told Rochester TV station WROC she was on her honeymoon in December when Cuomo spokesman Rich Azzopardi suddenly telephoned her. The call reportedly came two days after former Cuomo aide Lindsey Boylan became the first person to publicly accuse him of inappropriate behavior and sexual harassment.
“I thought at first that it was about work, like maybe it’s an economic development project that we’re working on here,” said Liss, who is now Monroe County’s director of planning and development. “And he said instead, ‘I have kind of an awkward question to ask you. Has Lindsey Boylan reached out to you, have you spoken to her?'”
Liss, who had been an aide for Cuomo for two years before departing in 2015, added: “And I said, ‘No,’ and then we hung up, and I remember thinking, ‘How many other people is he calling? Why is he calling us?’”
Boylan last month gave more details about the incidents described in her allegations, saying Cuomo unexpectedly kissed her “on the lips” in his Manhattan office in 2018 and also said “Let’s play strip poker” during a flight on his official state jet a year earlier, according to the New York Post.
Since then, five other women, including Liss, have accused Cuomo of sexual harassment or inappropriate interactions.
Cuomo has largely denied the allegations from at least five women, though he's apologized for interactions that he says weren't perceived as he'd intended, according to The Hill.
Liss told WROC that Boylan’s initial tweets led her to think, “Wow, that’s dangerous, good luck to you, I would never open my mouth, they’re going to crush you like a bug.”
But after “this really started to blow up,” Liss said, “I thought, ‘You know, maybe it isn’t as dangerous as I thought for Lindsey to speak out.’”
Liss also said that, after Boylan released more details last month, “She called me and said she was calling me because she saw me in the workplace and she knew I may have similar stories to share.”
Liss said other women were allegedly “subject to much more explicit treatment than I was” by Cuomo.
“I decided to share my story because it’s a small piece of a much larger and more elaborate puzzle that I think New Yorkers should be aware of,” she said. “I don’t think Albany or state government, working in the Executive Chamber, is a safe space [for] young women early in their careers.”
Azzopardi said the call to Liss was an attempt to give notice that Boylan and others may be reaching out.
“After Ms. Boylan’s tweets in December, she, and her lawyers and members of the press began reaching out to former members of the Chamber, many of whom never worked with her,” he said. “Those former members of the Chamber called to let various staff people know and convey that they were upset by the outreach. As a result, we proactively reached out to some former colleagues to check in and make sure they had a heads up.”
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