Monroe County employee, former Cuomo aide, accuses governor of inappropriate behavior

Cuomo Resigns

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — A fourth woman has come forward with allegations of inappropriate behavior against Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Ana Liss, 35, was a policy and operations aide in the Cuomo administration for two years. She first joined in 2013 as part of a fellowship and left in 2015, according to the Journal. Liss now works for Monroe County as the director of planning and development.

Liss is the third former aide to come forward alleging the governor inappropriately interacted with them.

This includes former aide Lindsey Boylan and former health policy advisor Charlotte Bennett. Anna Ruch, who was not an aide to the governor also came forward with accusations of inappropriate behavior.

MORE | Here’s what we know about Cuomo’s accusers

In her interview with the Wall Street Journal, Liss says the governor “asked her if she had a boyfriend, called her sweetheart, touched her on her lower back at a reception and once kissed her hand when she rose from her desk.”

The report notes that she originally believed her interactions with the governor were “harmless fun” and later found his actions patronizing.

Liss told the WSJ that the governor regularly asked her and other administration officials about their dating lives, touched them, commented about their physical appearance, and added that longtime staffers told some women they should wear high heels when the governor was in Albany.

Cuomo spokesman Rich Azzopardi said no one was compelled to wear high heels.

Liss keeps a framed photo of her and Governor Cuomo from a May 6 reception at the Albany Executive Mansion where she described one of the governor’s alleged inappropriate interactions with her, according to WSJ.

“She said the governor hugged her, kissed her on both cheeks and then wrapped his arm around her lower back and grabbed her waist,” the WSJ report said. “They turned to a photographer, who took a picture that shows Mr. Cuomo’s hand around her waist.”

“Reporters and photographers have covered the governor for 14 years watching him kiss men and women and posing for pictures,” Azzopardi said. “At the public open house mansion‎ reception, there are hundreds of people and he poses for hundreds of pictures. That’s what people in politics do.”

Monroe County Executive Adam Bello says she’s shown “tremendous strength” in coming forward. In a statement Saturday Bello said:

“Ana has shown tremendous strength in speaking about her experiences and the emotional trauma that resulted from her time working for the Governor. She is a valued member of my team since joining Monroe County over a year ago. I support Ana fully, as well as the other courageous women coming forward to share their stories.

Sexual harassment, unwanted sexual attention, and degrading or abusive behavior can never be tolerated, whether in the workplace or anywhere else. The tone for workplace culture is set at the top, and it is the responsibility of any leader to build a culture of respect and dignity for all persons, where all employees feel safe and know they are valued.  We owe it to each of the women who have shared their experience to fully investigate their claims, and to expedite the investigation.  The people of New York deserve nothing less.”

Monroe County Clerk Jamie Romeo said she stands with Liss, in a statement Sunday saing:

“I stand with Ana Liss and commend her for speaking out and sharing her story. For too many women, regardless of where you work, Ana’s story is one all too familiar. Having spent time in Albany both as a staffer and Assemblymember, I know the line between workplace and social setting all too often is a complete blur. Simple comments about appearance, smiling, or one’s personal life reinforces that you are not seen as an equal, but just a ‘girl in the room.’

Understanding that our intent does not define our impact is a fundamental shift we must embrace with every aspect of our lives. We must let these independent investigations into the governor’s conduct continue. And today we must continue the hard work of looking within, making sure that the behavior of those who lead and the policies in place in every workplace help reinforce that this conduct is not acceptable and will not be tolerated.”

Check back with News 8 WROC as we will continue to update this developing story.

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