A group of 30 women on Friday spoke out about the bullying and harassment they faced while working with for Andrew Cuomo as the New York Governor insists he won’t resign and is not guilty of abuse.
The women spoke to New York Magazine in a detailed account of the allegedly abusive environment that the governor’s aides are subjected to.
It included multiple women who claim that they were led to take anti-depressants and go to therapy for the first time in their lives after the atmosphere created by Cuomo and some of his senior aides took a drastic toll on their mental health.
One accuser revealed she had even called a suicide hotline.
A current New York state senator also spoke about the alleged intimidation tactics and power plays used by the governor, including an incident in which Cuomo kissed her on the head in front on her fiancé and asked if he was jealous.
And Cuomo’s first black speech writer has accused him of ‘racialized abuse’ which caused her to ask to be moved to another office after she claims that it became Cuomo had only hired her to ‘fill a quota’.
Cuomo’s fourth accuser Ana Liss, 35, (right) revealed she went on anti-depressants and called a suicide hotline while working there. State legislator Alessandra Biaggi (left) also claimed that the governor kissed her head in front on her fiancé twice
Cuomo’s first black speech writer Camonghne Felix accused him of ‘racialized abuse’
It comes as Cuomo’s future as governor becomes unclear with 13 out of the state’s 19 congressional Democrats calling for him to step down as of Friday afternoon
It comes as Cuomo’s future as governor becomes unclear with 14 out of the state’s 19 congressional Democrats calling for him to step down and all Democrats in the state senate saying that he should quit.
The claims made on Friday added to the allegations made by six women – most of whom were former aides – against the governor since December.
His fourth accuser, Ana Liss, 35, also spoke to New York Magazine as she revealed how her treatment in the office led her to believe ‘I was going crazy’.
Liss said that she ‘started pursuing mental-health services when I was there because I thought I was going crazy. My parents thought I was going nuts’.
‘I was angry and crying all the time, and I went on Lexapro,’ she added. ‘I did call in to a suicide hotline because I felt like such a friggin’ nobody.’
She had previously told the Wall Street Journal that she had started drinking heavily while working with Cuomo’s administration before asking to be moved to another office.
And she revealed on Thursday that she was among the former aides to receive an allegedly intimidating phone call from top Cuomo aides in December after first accuser Lindsey Boylan came forward.
In her first claims earlier this month she said that the governor asked her if she had a boyfriend, touched her on the lower back during an event reception and kissed her on the hand before she asked to move from his office.
‘I felt gross, like I was just an ornament,’ Liss said of requests for her to dress up while in the office.
She added that had ‘never felt more depleted by the male gaze’.
‘Melissa DeRosa [Cuomo’s top aide] had Louboutins, and there were legs everywhere, and I just felt stupid,’ Liss said.
‘I was living in a place that was full of people who were mean and predatory. It ground me down to the lowest point of my life, like I was a piece of nothing and my career was going nowhere.’
State legislator Alessandra Biaggi also claimed in her conversation with New York Magazine that the governor kissed her head in front on her fiancé twice when they met at a wedding after she left his office.
She claims Cuomo asked, ‘are you jealous?’ while looking at her fiancé.
‘I didn’t feel sexually harassed. I felt like he was trying to make me feel uncomfortable, to disarm me,’ Biaggi claimed.
And Cuomo was also accused of ‘racialized abuse’ by Camonghne Felix, a black speech writer.
She told New York that she eventually moved to the press team after she accepted, he was never going to use her speeches.
‘It’s a very subtle form of racialized abuse,’ she said. ‘You know I am beneficial to you. I fill a quota. It looks good on paper, and we made sure to put press releases out. But you don’t intend to incorporate me into the government. You just like to show me to people.’
Other women reiterated previous claims that they were expected to wear nice dresses and high heels in the office, with some saying they were contacted about interviewing for the governor’s administration after he met them at parties.
‘We all knew that this was only because of what I looked like,’ one former aide known only as Kaitlin said of her call.
‘Why else would you ask someone to come in two days after you had a two-minute interaction at a party?’
Kaitlin said that she first met Cuomo while working at a fundraiser in 2016 and that he garbbed her into a ‘kind of dance pose’ as a photographer took their picture.
‘This is the weirdest interaction I’ve ever had in my life. I was like, Don’t touch me. Everybody was watching,’ she remembers thinking.
On Friday, Cuomo refused to resign and claimed that he won’t bow to ‘cancel culture’.
With a sprawling coalition of congressional leaders joining dozens of state lawmakers in calling for the embattled governor to step down, the Democrat hit back.
Cuomo accused those who are calling for him to step down of ‘playing politics’, and said that as a former Attorney General, he knows that people ‘allege all sorts of things, for all sorts of reasons.’
The current New York Attorney General Letitia James is currently investigating Cuomo over the women’s complaints and over his handling of th data regarding nursing home deaths from COVID-19.
The new calls for his resignation come a day after New York State Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie said he had authorized its Judiciary Committee to start an impeachment investigation into sexual misconduct allegations that six women have made against Cuomo.
The panel’s investigation will run parallel to one being led by AG Letitia James.
Cuomo has asked the public to await the results of that investigation before making judgment.
The third-term governor, who took office in 2011, has pointed to his reelections as indication of strong statewide support, which was bolstered last year amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
He also touted his administration’s passage of liberal goals such as same-sex marriage as evidence that his hard-nosed approach to politics works.