New York Governor Andrew Cuomo faces a growing chorus of calls to resign from fellow Democrats amid sexual harassment claims and a controversy over nursing-home deaths during the coronavirus pandemic.
Six socialist members of New York’s state delegation called on Cuomo to step down Tuesday, joining Long Island Rep. Kathleen Rice, the first Democrat in Congress to do so late Monday after a third woman publicly accused the governor of inappropriate behavior.
New York Assemblyman Ron Kim, whose account of a browbeating by Cuomo helped spark the current controversy, said that he and other Democrats are “building consensus” on ousting Cuomo, even forcing him out if necessary.
“There are a few of us, we’re pushing for impeachment, and there are more people every day who ask him to step down and resign,” Kim said Tuesday during an interview on Bloomberg Quicktake.
Cuomo, 63, a third-term Democrat, had no public schedule. He been avoiding the spotlight for more than a week as the scandals grow. A report from New York Attorney General Letitia James said that more residents died in nursing homes from the coronavirus than the state Department of Health had reported. A top Cuomo aide admitted on a private call with lawmakers that the state withheld data because it was afraid of a federal investigation.
On Monday, the New York Times reported an account of Cuomo’s behavior from Anna Ruch, who said he put his hand on her bare lower back, then placed his hands on her cheeks and asked if he could kiss her at a wedding in 2019, the first time she had met him.
Charlotte Bennett, a former Cuomo aide, and Lindsey Boylan, a former top economic development official, have described similar uncomfortable interactions with Cuomo, who has denied the accounts but apologized for what he called “playful” interactions that he said were misconstrued.
James has been charged with choosing an outside attorney to look into Cuomo’s behavior in office.
“I don’t think he deserves the privilege of governing in New York State,” Kim said. “Woman after woman is coming out accusing him of abusive behavior.”
Jay Jacobs, the state Democratic party chairman, urged leaders to allow James’s investigation into the “serious, disturbing” allegations against Cuomo to move forward.
“It is both premature and unfair for anyone to opine on the outcome until that investigation is completed and the results reported,” Jacobs said Tuesday in a statement.
“In the meantime, our state has a budget to complete, a pandemic to fight and the people’s work must continue,” he said.
The socialist lawmakers, though, said Cuomo has created a culture that has allowed for bullying and harassment in the Statehouse.
“The accounts of sexual harassment from the women who have courageously come forward confirm what many in Albany have known for years: that Governor Cuomo uses his power to belittle, bully and harass his employees and colleagues,” said the lawmakers, including state Senators Julia Salazar and Jabari Brisport and four members of the state Assembly.
Kim, who recently accused Cuomo of threatening to “destroy” him over his comments about the governor’s handling of nursing homes, noted parallels with accusations against former President Donald Trump, who has been accused of sexual misconduct by more than two dozen women, saying that Democrats needed to be consistent.
“We were calling on Republicans to do the right thing for Trump for years,” he said. “Now it’s our turn to hold our executive accountable. This is our credibility on the line.”
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