Two former female aides to Gov. Andrew Cuomo are accusing him of bad behavior, with one saying the governor sexually harassed her in incidents that included inappropriate touching and an invitation to play strip poker. Cuomo denies the allegations.
Lindsey Boylan, in a piece on the online forum Medium, says Cuomo invited her to play strip poker when she and the governor were alone during an October 2017 business flight on the governor’s private plane. Boylan, who was then a top advisor to the governor on economic development, also accuses him of inappropriately making remarks about her appearance and touching her. She says she received an unwelcome kiss from him when she was alone with the governor in his New York City office in 2018.
Boylan resigned her post in September of 2018 and is now running for Manhattan Borough President.
Boylan first referenced her allegations in a tweet in December of 2020, though at the time she refused to give any more details. Cuomo, on Dec. 14, denied the allegations.
“It’s not true,” Cuomo said, “Look, I fought for and I believe a woman has the right to come forward and express issues and concerns that she has, but it’s just not true.”
A spokesperson for Cuomo, Caitlan Girouard, in a statement Wednesday denies the most recent charges, saying, the “claims of inappropriate behavior are quite simply false.”
The governor’s office released the flight manifest from all trips taken on the governor’s plane in October 2017, along with the testimony of four of the governor’s top staffers, who say they were on the flights and at no time was Cuomo ever alone with Boylan.
Aides John Maggiore, a senior advisor to Cuomo, and Howard Zemsky, who was then president of Empire State Development, and former top press officials Dani Lever and Abbey Fashouer Collins said in a joint statement, "We were on each of these October flights and this conversation did not happen."
The second-highest-ranking woman in state government, Senate Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, did not rush to defend the governor. In a statement, Stewart-Cousins says the account is “deeply disturbing” and that there is “no place for this type of behavior in the workplace or anywhere else.”
Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie also weighed in, saying in a statement that he considers the allegations “serious” and says “harassment in the workplace of any kind should not be tolerated.”
Boylan is not the only woman to make charges against Cuomo, who is already under fire for his handling of nursing home death numbers during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Karen Hinton, a former aide to Cuomo as well as New York City Mayor Bill deBlasio, called out both men on their political styles, saying they are demeaning and disrespectful to male and female staffers. In an essay in the Daily News, she says Cuomo’s “penchant for bullying” is “the norm.”
Hinton describes first working for Cuomo when he was HUD secretary in the 1990s, saying he got her the job and then worked to undermine her.
“Working for him is like a 1950s version of marriage. He always, always, always comes first,” she wrote.
The governor and his office did not respond to Hinton’s charges.