On Tuesday, New York State Lawyer Normal Letitia James launched a voluminous report that catalogued numerous instances of alleged sexual harassment by the state’s governor, Andrew Cuomo. Presently in his third time period, Cuomo is alleged to have harassed eleven girls; the report consists of cases that had been widely discussed in the media in addition to beforehand unreported situations of harassment. The report concludes that “the Government Chamber’s tradition—one crammed with concern and intimidation, whereas on the similar time normalizing the Governor’s frequent flirtations and gender-based feedback—contributed to the situations that allowed the sexual harassment to happen and persist.” In response, Cuomo—who has been ignoring requires his resignation for months—launched his personal report, which disputed James’s findings. Nonetheless, Democrats throughout the nation, together with President Biden, have referred to as for Cuomo’s resignation.
I mentioned the report with Casey Seiler, the editor of the Albany Instances Union, who has been on the paper for over twenty years. He makes an look within the report, owing to his newsroom’s investigation of Cuomo’s misconduct towards a state trooper. (The appendix of the report additionally features a transcript of a contentious change between Seiler and Melissa DeRosa, one in all Cuomo’s prime aides, about Lindsey Boylan, who accused the governor of sexual harassment.) Throughout our dialog, which has been edited for size and readability, we mentioned how Cuomo has been in a position to wield energy in Albany for therefore lengthy, how the Governor’s workplace has responded to unfavorable press, and the legacy that Cuomo will depart behind.
The image of Governor Cuomo within the report appears to observe on many issues now we have heard in regards to the Governor. How a lot of this conduct was already recognized, when it comes to each sexual misbehavior and his method of interacting with folks usually?
It was well-known that the Governor positioned an excessive premium on loyalty, which isn’t stunning for highly effective elected officers, and even folks in management positions in enterprise, to make certain. However, for the Governor, it was one thing that was particularly prized. You noticed that in the way in which the Governor comported himself through the criminal travails of Joseph Percoco, his former govt deputy secretary. [Percoco was convicted of corruption charges in 2018.] And also you noticed that in the way in which he would go after individuals who have been essential of these in his interior circle. And that, after all, is a reciprocal association, in that these folks would stay dedicated to the Governor, even after leaving the manager chamber.
That was some of the gorgeous revelations within the report—the diploma to which individuals who have been out of the manager chamber, who had escaped to comfy company jobs in public relations, have been completely joyful to be introduced again in to do disaster public-relations work for the manager chamber, as much as and together with advising and enjoying a task within the dissemination of data that was clearly meant to undercut the credibility of one of many girls who had accused the governor of legal misconduct.
Do you’ve got a way of whether or not this loyalty was based mostly on concern or on real affection, as a result of we hear continuously in regards to the former? Was there extra to it than that?
I feel for individuals who return to the administration of Mario Cuomo, a whole lot of it’s based mostly on affection. I feel there are additionally folks of newer classic who consider that the Governor is, or has been, an efficient chief of the state, and assume that within the early months of the pandemic he supplied a nationwide foil to the combined messages and chaotic well being advisories that have been rising from the White Home. I feel there’s a lot of state lawmakers and even native officers whose relationship with the Governor is predicated on the transactional nature of politics. You’re going to present reinforcement and assist for the politician who retains the gravy practice working.
How has he managed to stay in energy over the previous few months? When a few of these accusations have been first aired, there was a way that he is perhaps completed.
In that it’s value remembering that Donald Trump is one other Queens boy. And loads has been made evaluating Cuomo’s response to that of Governor Ralph Northam, of Virginia, however the allegations made in opposition to Northam have been sort of penny ante in contrast to those who have now been made in opposition to the Governor. Cuomo is now going through a half-dozen investigations or so, with this one wrapped up, not less than that we all know of. There may be additionally a brand new one from the Manhattan District Lawyer’s workplace, however we don’t know but what it includes.
However, sure, it was very stunning to many individuals when, through the first weeks in March, the stream of statements calling on the Governor to resign grew to become a torrent. That was when our managing editor for investigations, Brendan Lyons, broke the news of the allegation that the Governor had groped a feminine aide on the Government Mansion, which, I feel it’s nonetheless truthful to say, is essentially the most critical allegation in opposition to him. That week ended with Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand saying Cuomo may not maintain on to his workplace. He tied himself to the argument that we must always let the investigation play out, and that ended up profitable the day. The Governor mainly did his finest to deflect questions on his conduct and say the investigation ought to run its course, and that enabled him to purchase time to return to governance.
After a short while, increasingly folks have been joyful to look onstage with him in press conferences and bulletins. In current weeks, you even had folks angrily denouncing reporters—a state meeting member, Diana Richardson, denounced the reporter who introduced up that she and a state senator, Zellnor Myrie, had as soon as claimed Cuomo may not maintain on to his workplace, and requested why they have been standing with him now. Richardson responded with venom—that it wasn’t an applicable query, and the way dare you convey up political issues after we are right here to speak about regardless of the difficulty of the information convention was. And it labored.
So, was this about some type of loyalty to Cuomo?
It virtually doesn’t matter if they’ve loyalty to Cuomo or not. What issues most is their actions. In different phrases, have been they mendacity to the general public once they mentioned in March that Cuomo ought to resign, or have been they mendacity to the general public once they confirmed as much as reward him for funnelling state funding their method, whereas angrily denouncing questions on their prior statements? Who was being political in that change? Was it the reporter, or was it them?
The speaker of the New York State Meeting, Carl Heastie, launched a press release saying, “It’s abundantly clear to me that the governor has misplaced the boldness of the Meeting Democratic majority and that he can not stay in workplace.” He was somebody who was unwilling to go this far for a very long time. What’s his position in Albany, and his relationship to the Governor?
He has had an excellent relationship with the Governor. Carl Heastie has confronted questions in regards to the propriety of that relationship. My paper has reported at size a couple of leak investigation from the state’s Joint Fee on Public Ethics. There was a vote about whether or not to proceed with an ancillary matter to the Percoco case. That vote narrowly determined in opposition to calling for a proper ethics investigation, however the speaker’s appointees apparently didn’t vote the way in which the Governor would have preferred for them to have voted. In some way, the Governor received wind of the way it went, referred to as Heastie, and skim him the riot act. Heastie and one in all his prime aides then reached out to 2 of their appointees to the fee and allow them to know that the Governor was upset with them. And, after all, these members of the fee, realizing there had been a leak about what was speculated to have been a closed assembly, reported it to the state inspector basic’s workplace, which they have been speculated to do.