Governor Andrew Cuomo told reporters on Sunday that calls from the public – and politicians – based on the allegations against him by five women are “anti-democratic” until the state attorney general fully investigates the complaints into his conduct.
Vexed, Cuomo argued that the level that the accusations have been publicized is not appropriate and that he is entitled to due process before being forced to resign as a democratically elected leader.
“I wasn’t elected by politicians. I’m not going to resign because of allegations. The premise of resigning because of allegations is actually anti-democratic. We’ve always done the exact opposite, you know, the system is based on due process. The credibility of the allegation, anybody has the ability to make an allegation in democracy, and that’s great. But it’s in the credibility of the allegation,” Cuomo said. “I remember when we set up JCOPE. We set up this whole elaborate process that the accusation was private. The person who was accused got a private letter, but the accusation was private. Why? Because it’s damaging to publicize allegations before you know that they are credible. JCOPE has hundreds of allegations, but until they are reviewed, they are private.”
When Lindsey Boylan came forward with more allegations against the governor in February, those calling for a thorough investigation advocated for the use of an apparatus free of Cuomo’s influence to take on the task.
The governor’s office then referred the investigation to Attorney General Letitia James who took up the challenge of reviewing the allegations that have increased from Boylan to 25-year-old Charlotte Bennett. Two more former staffers have come forward including one woman who said Cuomo attempted to kiss her at a wedding.
According to the governor, the allegations against him will not “distract” him in the current challenges he faces in closing additional $15 billion in budget gaps left by the COVID-19 pandemic, which is still not fully alleviated by the 12.5 billion provided by the federal government in the American Rescue Plan.
Calls from state Senator Alessandra Biaggi or other politicians for the governor’s immediate resignation, Cuomo claims, are politically driven.
“I have political differences with Senator Biaggi, but they don’t override the people’s will. They don’t override elections. They don’t get to hear an allegation and make a determination on that allegation,” Cuomo said. “Let’s release all the allegations that JCOPE and the Attorney General and the DAs have about Senate members and then let’s put them out in the public arena. And then let’s decide publicly, yea or nay, should this allegation cause a person to resign. You know that’s absurd. People are free to make allegations. But then we also have a process of due process… I was the Attorney General of New York for four years. I got all sorts of allegations against politicians, all the time. They weren’t public. I dealt with them and we found the facts. If there was an issue, then I brought it forth.”
Karen Hinton, a former aide to Cuomo during his tenure in the federal government, is perhaps the freshest allegation against the governor despite the event in question going back to 2000 in which he allegedly hugged her for an uncomfortable period of time in a hotel room.
Cuomo denied these allegations during his Sunday news conference as well, stating her background as a “longtime political adversary” who has always been critical of his actions.