As former New York governor Andrew Cuomo (D.) faced accusations of sexual misconduct, which eventually led to his 2021 resignation, his sister orchestrated online attacks against his accusers, the New York Times reported Monday.
"Just spoke and he thinks a distraction could be helpful today," Madeline Cuomo, sister to the disgraced ex-governor, texted last summer to activists in the group We Decide New York, which levied attacks against accusers.
Madeline Cuomo sent the texts, which were obtained by the Times, after Cuomo's former aide Charlotte Bennett filed suit against the former governor for sexual harassment. Hours later, attacks against Bennett appeared on social media.
"Your life will be dissected like a frog in a HS science class," one threat responding to Bennett said. It was posted by activist and We Decide New York member Anna Vavare, who was in contact with Madeline Cuomo.
The ex-governor's sister encouraged the group to post "photos of Charlotte In her sex kitten straddle," which the group's members did when they included a photo of her in a bar wearing lingerie in the social media attacks.
"No respectable woman would EVER pose like that," Cuomo said in texts to the activists.
While the attacks last year on Bennett occurred while Cuomo was out of office, texts show Madeline Cuomo coordinated with We Decide New York before her brother's resignation in 2021 in an effort to combat the accusations.
The Times reported on the pro-Cuomo group in February 2022, in an article describing the members as women "determined to clear Cuomo’s name."
Members of the group, which formed in spring 2021 to support the embattled governor, said that Madeline quickly began to take over the group's efforts, the Times reported Monday:
But four of the group’s current leaders said in interviews that even as their work appeared organic to the outside world, Ms. Cuomo, 58, began privately exerting control. Starting just weeks after the group was formed, she steered its volunteer activists — many in their 50s, 60s and 70s — to prop up her brother and hound his accusers ever more aggressively.