The National Governors Association is remaining silent on the sexual harassment allegations against their chair, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
Two former administration staff members accused Cuomo of harassment in recent days, prompting calls for an investigation — and in some cases, Cuomo’s resignation. The NGA, however, has so far declined to address the issue.
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When asked by Fox News if the organization has any statement or comment on the matter, NGA press secretary James Nash simply said, “We do not.”
Cuomo himself has responded to the most recent allegations from Charlotte Bennett, which were reported by the New York Times.
“Ms. Bennett was a hardworking and valued member of our team during COVID. She has every right to speak out,” Cuomo said in a statement. He went on to say that he “was trying to be a mentor to her,” and “never made advances” or intended to act inappropriately.
“The last thing I would ever have wanted was to make her feel any of the things that are being reported,” he continued.
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Cuomo added that he agreed to have an outside investigation of the matter, but first attempted to name former federal judge Barbara Jones — who had previously worked at a law firm with former top Cuomo aide Steve Cohen — to head the probe. That decision sparked criticism, which led to Cuomo calling for Court of Appeals Chief Judge Janet DiFiore to work with New York Attorney General Letitia James to choose an independent lawyer.
James rejected that idea, pointing out that while Cuomo’s office must give the referral for an outside review, once that happens it becomes her job to carry out the investigation.
“The state’s Executive Law clearly gives my office the authority to investigate this matter once the governor provides a referral,” James said in a statement. “While I have deep respect for Chief Judge DiFiore, I am the duly elected attorney general and it is my responsibility to carry out this task, per Executive Law. The governor must provide this referral so an independent investigation with subpoena power can be conducted.”
Bennett made her allegations known after another former Cuomo aide, Lindsey Boylan, came forward last week with a Medium post detailing her own alleged experiences with the governor, including a suggestion by Cuomo that they play strip poker during a 2017 airplane flight and an unwanted kiss on the lips in the governor’s New York City office.
Cuomo’s office denied Boylan’s allegations.
“As we said before, Ms. Boylan’s claims of inappropriate behavior are quite simply false,” Cuomo press secretary Caitlin Girouard said in a statement that specifically denied the alleged flight incident.
After Bennett’s allegations, however, Cuomo made a general admission that while at work he likes to “make jokes that I think are funny,” and has “teased people about their personal lives, their relationships, about getting married or not getting married.”
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The governor claimed that he did not mean to offend anyone, but recognized that he now sees “that my interactions may have been insensitive or too personal and that some of my comments, given my position, made others feel in ways I never intended.”
“I acknowledge some of the things I have said have been misinterpreted as an unwanted flirtation,” Cuomo continued. “To the extent anyone felt that way, I am truly sorry about that.”
Fox News’ Thomas Barrabi contributed to this report.