New York teachers unions call Cuomo ‘unfit’ to serve as governor following AG sexual harassment report

DSC09903 copy 2
Governor Cuomo at a press conference on June 24.
Photo by Dean Moses

New York state teachers unions called Governor Andrew Cuomo “unfit” to serve in office after a months-long investigation by Attorney General Letitia James found the governor sexually harassed almost a dozen women and created a toxic work environment, violating federal and state law.

“The attorney general has detailed conduct that is repugnant and indefensible in any workplace and especially in the state’s highest elected office,” said Andy Pallotta, president of the New York State United Teachers which represents over 600,000 teachers, health care workers and human services across the state. “Equally troubling was the governor’s response to the report. Sadly, both show he is unfit to serve in office.”

James revealed the long-anticipated findings of the investigation, led by former federal prosecutor Joon Kim and lawyer Anne Clark, during a press conference on Tuesday nearly five months after starting the probe. Investigators reviewed 74,000 pages of documents and interviewed 179 people, according to the report. 

The investigation found Cuomo sexually harassed at least 11 women, including former and current state employees, through unwanted groping, kissing, hugging and offensive comments of a sexual nature. In addition, the report found, the governor’s staff retaliated against one former employee for coming forward with her story of experiencing harassment.  

“This is a sad day for New York because independent investigators have concluded that Governor Cuomo sexually harassed multiple women and, in doing so, broke the law,” said Attorney General James. “I am grateful to all the women who came forward to tell their stories in painstaking detail, enabling investigators to get to the truth. No man — no matter how powerful — can be allowed to harass women or violate our human rights laws, period.”

Shortly after NYSUT released its statement admonishing the governor’s behavior a spokesperson for the New York City teacher’s union, the United Federation of Teachers, confirmed the union stood in lockstep with the state teachers union. 

The teachers’ unions are two additions to a growing list of elected officials and organizations chastise Cuomo’s actions towards women. Within hours of the 165-page-long report’s release, every Democratic lawmaker from New York state in Congress, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and President Joe Biden called on the governor to resign. The governor is now under a criminal investigation, the Albany County District Attorney said. 

James launched the investigation in March, roughly a month after former Cuomo aide Lindsey Boylan published an essay on Medium alleging the governor had sexually harassed her. A few days later, another former aid, Charlotte Bennett, accused the governor of making inappropriate comments.

The probe took a deep dive into the accusations made by both former aides and also unearthed several new accusations including multiple claims of sexual harassment by a state trooper assigned to the governor’s protective detail. 

“This investigation has revealed conduct that corrodes the very fabric and character of our state government and shines light on the injustice that can be present at the highest level of government,” said James. “But none of this would have been illuminated if not for the heroic women who came forward. And I am inspired by all the brave women who came forward but more importantly I believe them.”