A former aide to New York governor Andrew Cuomo accused the Democrat of abuse and sexual harassment in a Wednesday essay.
Lindsey Boylan, who worked in the Cuomo administration for nearly four years, most recently as a special adviser to the governor, said Cuomo fostered a workplace culture "where sexual harassment and bullying is so pervasive that it is not only condoned but expected." She detailed one incident in which the Democrat asked her to "play strip poker" and accused Cuomo of kissing her on the lips following a one-on-one briefing in the governor's office.
"After that, my fears worsened. I came to work nauseous every day," Boylan wrote. "My relationship with his senior team — mostly women — grew hostile after I started speaking up for myself. I was reprimanded and told to get in line by his top aides, but I could no longer ignore it." She later resigned.
The accusations come as Cuomo faces blowback on another scandal—his handling of the coronavirus pandemic. Lawmakers from both parties have called for the governor to lose his emergency powers after a top aide admitted that the Cuomo administration suppressed information about nursing home deaths. One Democratic state lawmaker has echoed Boylan's accusations of "bullying," claiming that Cuomo threatened to "destroy" his career because he criticized the governor in a statement. New York City mayor Bill de Blasio (D.) called the alleged remark "nothing new."
According to Boylan, aides close to Cuomo informed her that the governor had a "crush" on her, citing her similar appearance to Cuomo's former girlfriend. The Democrat went on to "go out of his way" to touch Boylan on her "lower back, arms and legs." Cuomo's senior staff also kept tabs on Boylan's location at the governor's request, internal emails posted in the essay show.
Boylan first accused Cuomo of sexual harassment in a December tweet thread but did not offer details or speak to reporters on the allegations. She said that two women who were "too afraid to speak out" contacted her following the tweets to describe similar experiences. Cuomo denied the assertions at the time, saying that while he "believe[s] a woman has the right to come forward and express her opinion," Boylan's claims were "just not true."
"The Governor exploited my weakness, my desire to do good work and to be respected," Boylan said Wednesday. "I hope that sharing my story will clear the path for other women to do the same."
Cuomo did not immediately return a request for comment. He is now the latest member in New York's Democratic machine to be accused of sexual misconduct. In 2018, former attorney general Eric Schneiderman resigned following allegations of violent acts against women. Cuomo condemned Schneiderman in response, calling the revelations "shocking and disturbing."
Update: 2/24/2021 3:07 p.m.