ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Several local lawmakers have called on Gov. Andrew Cuomo to resign after New York Attorney General Letitia James announced the findings of her office’s investigation into the governor on Tuesday.
The nearly five-month investigation, conducted by two outside lawyers who spoke to 179 people, found that the Cuomo administration was a “hostile work environment” and that it was “rife with fear and intimidation.”
People interviewed included complainants, current and former members of the executive chamber, State troopers, additional state employees and others who interacted regularly with the governor. They also reviewed more than 74,000 piece of evidence, including documents, emails, text messages, audio files and pictures.
“The independent investigation has concluded that Governor Andrew Cuomo sexually harassed multiple woman and in doing so violated federal and state law,” James said. “Specifically the investigation found that Governor Andrew Cuomo sexually harassed current and former New York state employees by engaging in unwelcome and non-consensual touching and making numerous offensive comments.”
Last winter there was a chorus of calls for Cuomo’s resignation from many top elected Democrats in New York, including two U.S. senators, Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand. But Cuomo refused to quit and has been raising money for a fourth term in office. On Tuesday, some of those calls were renewed.
Republican Assemblyman Josh Jensen (134th) says Cuomo misused his power. “He used his position of authority to prey on other people,” he says.
He says if Cuomo doesn’t resign, “It’s time for my colleagues and myself in the Assembly to follow through with impeachment proceedings.”
Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul:
“Sexual harassment is unacceptable in any workplace, and certainly not in public service. The Attorney General’s investigation has documented repulsive and unlawful behavior by the Governor towards multiple women. I believe these brave women and admire their courage coming forward.
No one is above the law. Under the New York Constitution, the Assembly will now determine the next steps.
Because Lieutenant Governors stand next in the line of succession, it would not be appropriate to comment further on the process at this moment.”
Senators Kirsten Gillibrand and Chuck Schumer:
“As we have said before, the reported actions of the Governor were profoundly disturbing, inappropriate, and completely unacceptable. Today’s report from the New York State Attorney General substantiated and corroborated the allegations of the brave women who came forward to share their stories – and we commend the women for doing so.
“The New York State Attorney General has conducted an independent, thorough and professional investigation that found the Governor violated state and federal law, had a pattern of sexually harassing current and former employees, retaliated against at least one of the accusers, and created a hostile work environment.
“No elected official is above the law. The people of New York deserve better leadership in the governor’s office. We continue to believe that the Governor should resign.”
Assemblymember Harry Bronson (D-138):
Let me start by thanking the courageous women who came forward to share their truths. The Attorney General’s investigative report has been released which substantiates and corroborates the sexual harassment complaints of numerous women. The report details sex-based harassment of current and former employees that includes unwanted groping, kissing, hugging and inappropriate comments of a sexual nature.
These findings are extremely disturbing and reflects a pattern of behavior that cannot be tolerated in any work setting but especially in public office. I stand by my original statement and again am calling on the Governor to resign immediately. He must put the families of New York first and step aside for the interest of all New Yorkers.
Congressman Joe Morelle:
“The findings presented today as part of the Attorney General’s sexual misconduct investigation further underscore the need for the Governor to step down. It remains clear that he cannot continue to effectively govern and provide the leadership our state needs during these unprecedented times.”
State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli:
“This is a sad day for New York. The Attorney General’s report documents unacceptable workplace behavior in the Executive Chamber at the highest level of state leadership. The women who came forward are courageous, and they have been heard. As I stated months ago, the Governor should step down.”
Rep. John Katko:
“The report detailed by NYS Attorney General Letita James confirms that Governor Cuomo abused his office by engaging in a pattern of sexual harassment and retaliation. The Governor created a hostile and intolerable work environment and broke federal law, as well as the state law he enacted. Officials at all levels of government have a duty to prevent this type of horrific conduct. Instead, Governor Cuomo enabled it. For his inexcusable and egregious conduct, Governor Cuomo must resign.”
Sen. Samra Brouk:
As Attorney General Letitia James shared with us this morning, it is abundantly clear that Governor Andrew M. Cuomo committed horrifying abuses of his position, perpetuated a hostile work environment and sexually assaulted a number of current and former New York State employees.
I believed the governor’s accusers when they came forward this spring, and I believe the attorney general now. It takes bravery and strength to come forward as these women did, and I reiterate my call for Governor Cuomo to resign over his criminal conduct.
If the governor does not immediately resign, I call on the Assembly and its leadership — Speaker Carl E. Heastie and Assembly Judiciary Chair Charles Lavine — to initiate impeachment proceedings. The report is more than enough to justify such action and, in cases like this, there are always more women who do not feel safe enough or have the support necessary to come forward — we may never know the full account of Governor Cuomo’s crimes. This conduct has no place in any workplace, and certainly not in public service.
Monroe County Executive Adam Bello:
The Attorney General’s report confirms what we already knew from the compelling accounts of the many brave women who came forward. Governor Cuomo used his position of power to sexually harass and abuse women, and to create a toxic workplace environment that diminished and devalued dedicated public servants. I continue to believe the Governor must resign.
Monroe County Clerk Jamie Romeo:
“Almost 5 months ago, I called on Governor Cuomo to do the honorable thing and step down. In that time, the Governor has continued to attempt to intimidate accusers, minimize the impact of his own actions, and question efforts to provide a safe space for these women to be heard. Not only is this wrong, but it reinforces the challenges many women face in striving to be treated and heard as equals. With the Attorney General’s report corroborating these allegations today, Governor Cuomo must put the needs of the State first and resign. He has lost our trust and respect.”
Monroe County Legislature Rachel Barnhart (D-21):
Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce Bob Duffy:
“I am shocked and dismayed to learn the findings of the investigation led by Attorney General James, and I applaud the courage of the women who came forward to share their experiences. Speaking out about toxic work environments and sexual harassment is difficult under any circumstances, but even more so when such behaviors are carried out by a person in a position of power. ‘Intent’ does not matter. At issue is the impact of actions.
Everyone deserves a work environment free of harassment, retaliation, bullying, and fear. The responsibility of leaders is to establish a positive and safe work culture. It is unfortunate to see that this investigation concludes the opposite is true.
While it is not my role to speculate on the Governor’s political future, this comprehensive report provides a path forward for accountability and expectations of our leaders.”