Monday, March 08, 2021

Cuomo's Finally Getting Only Exactly What He Richly Deserves...,

nymag |  The normally efficient governor’s office had been spinning out of control ever since a bombshell New York Times story broke the prior evening detailing how Cuomo had made a series of inappropriate comments to Charlotte Bennett, a young female aide, including asking her if she had ever had sex with older men and if she was monogamous in relationships.

“They are panicking,” one former adviser said. The governor’s office released a statement saying it would have no further comment on the issue, then released three more statements throughout the day, the last of which was a cringe-inducing one in which the governor said he spends all his time at work, that he considers his colleagues in the executive chamber friends, and: “At work sometimes I think I am being playful and make jokes that I think are funny. I do, on occasion, tease people in what I think is a good natured way.” He continued: “To be clear I never inappropriately touched anybody and I never propositioned anybody and I never intended to make anyone feel uncomfortable.”

Cuomo announced that Barbara Jones, a former federal judge with whom he has close ties, would lead an investigation into the allegations against him. It was rejected out of hand. State Attorney General Letitia James leads such investigations, something Cuomo should know, since he led them against both Eliot Spitzer and David Paterson when he was attorney general, which contributed to both of them being run out of office. He then said that Court of Appeals Chief Judge Janet DiFiore would team up with James to pick an investigator, something James, after consulting with Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie to make sure they would back her up, rejected again.

It was not lost on the three that here was the governor trying to find an older white woman to oversee the work of the first female Black attorney general.

Although it was erratic behavior from the governor’s office, it was also quintessentially Cuomo: trying to keep all inquiries in-house, trying to control the outcome, and trying to see if the other branches of state government would give ground, as they so often do.

As of this writing, there are now three five allegations of sexual harassment lodged against Cuomo: by Bennett; by Lindsey Boylan, another aide who alleged that Cuomo forcibly tried to kiss her and made inappropriate comments to her; and by a woman named Anna Ruch, who says Cuomo made inappropriate advances to her at a wedding. It is important to say “as of this writing,” because the current number of sexual-harassment claims against the governor is almost certain to rise, to say nothing of allegations of bullying, coercion, and workplace aggression that have also come out over the past several weeks.

This moment was supposed to be a triumphant one for the governor. The state is emerging from a year of COVID lockdown; vaccinations are happening; businesses are reopening. Instead, Cuomo has been holed up in Albany, waiting for more allegations to come out, as whispers grow that he will not be the governor of New York by the end of next week, if not sooner.

The biggest problem for the governor at the moment is that he is facing an open revolt in the State Senate and the Assembly. Even in the moderate suburban swing districts where Cuomo is supposed to have electoral strength, lawmakers fear that he will be a liability if he were to run for a fourth term in 2022. They are also anxious to reclaim some of the prerogatives of governing that Cuomo’s domineering style has taken away from them. And after years of abuse from Cuomo and his aides, many lawmakers are ready to exact revenge — none more so than New York City mayor Bill de Blasio, who has been on a national TV tour tearing into the governor over the sexual-harassment allegations and the way he has treated his rivals in government.

“The problem he has right now,” said one Cuomo ally, “is that everybody hates him.”