A day after a blistering New York State investigative report found that Democratic Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo had fostered a culture of workplace misconduct and had sexually harassed numerous women, the Caribbean American Speaker of the State Assembly says the governor will be impeached.
“After our conference this afternoon to discuss the Attorney General’s report concerning sexual harassment allegations against Gov. Cuomo, it is abundantly clear to me that the governor has lost the confidence of the Assembly Democratic majority and that he can no longer remain in office,” said Speaker Carl Heastie, whose grandparents hailed from the Bahamas, on Wednesday.
“Once we receive all relevant documents and evidence from the Attorney General, we will move expeditiously and look to conclude our impeachment investigation as quickly as possible,” he added.
In the report, made public on Tuesday, the investigators found that Cuomo’s actions and those of the Executive Chamber violated multiple state and federal laws, as well as the Executive Chamber’s own written policies.
Starting in December 2020, multiple women came forward with allegations that Cuomo sexually harassed them.
Additionally, New York Attorney General Letitia James said the investigators found that the Executive Chamber was “rife with fear and intimidation” that not only “enabled the above-described instances of harassment to occur,” but also “created a hostile work environment overall.”
“Further, Gov. Cuomo, himself, and the Executive Chamber engaged in ‘retaliatory’ behavior by ‘intend[ing] to discredit and disparage’ a former employee that came forward with her story of harassment,” James said.
She said the investigation found that Cuomo’s sexual harassment of multiple women and his and the Executive Chamber’s retaliation against a former employee for coming forward with her claims of sexual harassment violated multiple state and federal laws, including Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the New York State Human Rights Law, and 42 US Code § 1983, in addition to the Executive Chamber’s own equal employment policies.
Heastie said he has received the Attorney General’s 168-page report containing findings of sexual harassment and misconduct committed by Gov. Cuomo.
“The findings contained in the report are disturbing,” he said. “The details provided by the victims are gut-wrenching. Our hearts go out to all the individuals who have had to endure this horrible experience.
“The conduct by the governor outlined in this report would indicate someone who is not fit for office,” added Heastie, disclosing that the report has been forwarded to the members of the Judiciary Committee, as well as all members of the Assembly.
“We will now undertake an in-depth examination of the report and its corresponding exhibits with our Assembly counsels, as well the legal firm we have retained to assist us,” the Assembly Speaker added.
But Cuomo has strongly dismissed the report’s finding, reiterating his contention that he had never touched anyone inappropriately, stating “the facts are much different from what has been portrayed.”
“I never touched anyone inappropriately or made inappropriate sexual advances,” he said in a prerecorded message on Tuesday. “I am 63 years old. I have lived my entire adult life in public view. That is just not who I am, and that’s not who I have ever been.”
However, numerous legislators, including US President Joseph Biden, have called for Cuomo to resign.
Several Caribbean American legislators – including Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke, Chair of the Brooklyn Democratic Party Rodneyse Bichotte Hermelyn and New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams – have also echoed mounting calls for Cuomo’s resignation.
“Let me be very clear, I reiterate my call for the governor to step down and applaud Attorney General (Letitia) James for conducting such a comprehensive investigation. Full stop,” Clarke, who represents the predominantly Caribbean 9th Congressional District in Brooklyn, told Caribbean Life.
“Sexual harassment is extremely serious, and no one is above the law,” she added. “The glaring examples of sexual harassment, coupled with retaliatory behavior and the attempting to disparage the strong enough women to come forward, are disappointing and unacceptable.”
Democrats in both the New York State Legislature and in New York’s congressional delegation have joined heightened calls on the governor to resign.
If the New York State Assembly votes to impeach Gov. Cuomo, he will be tried by the seven members of New York’s Court of Appeals, the highest state court, and all but one state senator, the Senate Majority Leader, Andrea Stewart-Cousins.
The Senate Majority Leader is prohibited by New York State Constitution from voting on the jury, because she is in the line of succession.
The impeachment trial in New York differs from that of the US Senate in that all US senators serve as jurors.
Cuomo could be removed from office if two-thirds majority, or 46, votes to convict him.