Democrats call for Cuomo’s resignation following another report of unwanted advances toward woman

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo provides updates on protests following George Floyd’s death and the coronavirus during a press conference in the Red Room at the State Capitol. (Mike Groll/Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo)

For the third time in less than a week, Governor Andrew Cuomo finds himself mired in a scandal surrounding unwanted advances made toward a woman — and it set off a round of calls from prominent Democrats who want him to resign from office.

The New York Times broke a story Monday night about the episode involving Cuomo and Anna Ruch, who attended a September 2019 wedding at which the governor was also a guest.

The damning report, coming on the heels of previous sexual harassment accusations made by two former Cuomo aides in the past week, sparked a number of ranking Democratic lawmakers in New York who called for Cuomo to step down from office. 

They include Long Island Congresswoman Kathleen Rice, Queens Assemblywoman Jessica González-Rojas and Bronx state Senators Alessandra Biaggi and Gustavo Rivera. 

City Councilmembers Ben Kallos and Brad Lander also joined the growing chorus of Democrats seeking to hold Cuomo accountable for his actions.

Citing Ruch’s own account of the event, as well as corroborating witnesses and text messages, the Times report indicated that Cuomo, 63, had approached Ruch, 33, and engaged her in conversation. After she complimented him on a toast he made to the married couple, it was reported, Cuomo allegedly put his hand on her bare lower back.

After she went to remove the hand, the Times reported, Cuomo remarked that she was being “aggressive,” then placed his hands on her cheeks and asked if he could kiss her. Ruch then pulled away from the governor as she drew closer, according to the report.

Ruch has not worked for the governor or the state, the Times reported. The Governor’s office has yet to comment on the matter.

In a Medium post on Feb. 24, Lindsey Boylan alleged that Cuomo had asked her to play a game of strip poker while on board a plane with him. She further stated that the governor fostered “a culture within his administration where sexual harassment and bullying is so pervasive that it is not only condoned but expected.” 

Then on Saturday, in another New York Times report, former Cuomo aide Charlotte Bennett said that Cuomo asked uncomfortable questions about her sex life that she interpreted as a sexual advance. 

Cuomo issued an apology on Sunday and called for a full review of his actions. Though his office initially sought to appoint former federal judge Barbara Jones to handle the matter, the governor’s office on Monday officially referred the matter to state Attorney General Letitia James for an independent investigation, amid public concerns about impartiality.

Also on Sunday, Cuomo issued a statement of apology for the incidents. He has not held a press briefing since Feb. 22. 

“I now understand that my interactions may have been insensitive or too personal and that some of my comments, given my position, made others feel in ways I never intended. I acknowledge some of the things I have said have been misinterpreted as an unwanted flirtation. To the extent anyone felt that way, I am truly sorry about that,” Cuomo said in his Feb. 28 statement. “To be clear I never inappropriately touched anybody and I never propositioned anybody and I never intended to make anyone feel uncomfortable, but these are allegations that New Yorkers deserve answers to.”

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