A former aide to Gov. Andrew Cuomo has accused Cuomo of sexual harassment, and she claims he created a “pervasive” culture of “sexual harassment and bullying.”
Lindsey Boylan, the former deputy secretary for economic development and special adviser to the governor, wrote about her experiences with Cuomo on Medium, detailing incidents including one on a flight in October 2017.The governor, seated very close to Boylan, allegedly said to her: “Let’s play strip poker.”
Boylan sarcastically responded, “That’s exactly what I was thinking,” while thinking to herself, she had accepted his behavior far too long.
Lindsey Boylan accuses Gov. Cuomo
“We were flying home from an October 2017 event in Western New York on his taxpayer-funded jet,” Boylan wrote. “He was seated facing me, so close our knees almost touched. His press aide was to my right and a state trooper behind us,” noted Boylan.
“Governor Andrew Cuomo has created a culture within his administration where sexual harassment and bullying is so pervasive that it is not only condoned but expected. His inappropriate behavior toward women was an affirmation that he liked you, that you must be doing something right. He used intimidation to silence his critics. And if you dared to speak up, you would face consequences,” wrote Boylan.
In December, when another former Cuomo worker confided to Boylan that similar sexual harassment had been happening to her from Cuomo, Boylan took the brave step of outing him.
Alleged environment of sexual harassment and bullying
“In a few tweets, I told the world what a few close friends, family members, and my therapist had known for years: Andrew Cuomo abused his power as Governor to sexually harass me, just as he had done with so many other women,” she wrote.
Cuomo’s press secretary, Caitlin Girouard, has dismissed Boylan’s allegations. “As we said before, Ms. Boylan’s claims of inappropriate behavior are quite simply false,” Girouard said in a statement.
The press secretary cited entries from the flight logbook detailing Cuomo’s plane trips in October 2017, noting that there was “no flight where Lindsey was alone with the governor, a single press aide, and an NYS trooper,” as she claimed in the blog post.
Cuomo aides deny accusations
Her statement was backed up by other former aides who shared the same flights during that time—John Maggiore, Howard Zemsky, Dani Lever, and Abbey Fashouer Collins—who denied the event occurred as Boylan described. “We were on each of these October flights, and this conversation did not happen,” the aides said.
Boylan started to become fearful of Cuomo after an encounter in 2016 when he “smirked” at her after showing a cigar box former president Bill Clinton had given him during his tenure as Housing and Urban Development Secretary in Clinton’s Cabinet.
“The two-decade-old reference to President Clinton’s affair with Monica Lewinsky was not lost on me,” Boylan said.
Cuomo allegedly kissed her on the lips and told her she resembled his former girlfriend.
‘I was reprimanded and told to get in line by his top aides’
“After that, my fears worsened. I came to work nauseous every day. My relationship with his senior team—mostly women—grew hostile after I started speaking up for myself,” Boylan said. “I was reprimanded and told to get in line by his top aides, but I could no longer ignore it. On September 26, 2018, I sent a mass email informing staff members of my resignation.”
Boylan, currently running for the office of Manhattan borough president, also referred to remarks from New York Assemblyman Ron Kim and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, who recently accused Cuomo of bullying.
She added that she felt “compelled to tell [her] story because no woman should feel forced to hide their experiences of workplace intimidation, harassment, and humiliation—not by the governor or anyone else,” reports Fox News.
The Sexual Harassment Working Group (SHWG), an organization formed by seven former New York State legislative employees who witnessed or experienced harassment in the state’s political landscape, called for an independent investigation into Boylan’s allegations.
We formed the SHWG based on the belief that the collective voice and power of survivors is stronger together against systems of abuse.
We are calling for an immediate independent investigation into Governor Cuomo’s workplace behavior.
Full statement: https://t.co/bsRxAYe17V
— Sexual Harassment Working Group (@harassment_free) February 24, 2021
“There must be an immediate independent investigation into Governor Cuomo’s workplace behavior, conducted by an entity over which Cuomo does not have any appointment or supervisory powers,” the group said, reported Fox.