Image Credit: Diana Robinson
Andrew Cuomo has served as New York State Governor for ten years. He is a member of a US political dynasty; his father was also NY State Governor and his brother is a CNN show anchor. His first formal political position was Assistant Secretary for Housing and Urban Development under Bill Clinton, before his promotion to the Cabinet in the same Department. After Clinton’s presidency, Cuomo was Attorney General for New York, before running for Governor in 2010. He holds a perfect political résumé and was considered to be a Presidential contender. This is no longer the case.
Since the beginning of 2021, a series of allegations against Cuomo have emerged, criticising both his professional ability and his personal character. He has been accused of deliberately hiding the number of Covid deaths in New York, whilst promoting his own leadership ability. These accusations have resulted in an FBI investigation into his conduct. 7 women have also filed sexual assault claims against him.
In January of this year, Letitia James, the Attorney General of NY, released a report which found that 4,000 Covid deaths in New York were not properly accounted for. Those who had died in hospital but contracted the disease in a care home were not included in the care home death statistics. This meant that the number of care home deaths is much higher than officially reported, and made New York one of the worst states in terms of the number of care home deaths. Furthermore, the report linked this finding to an order by Andrew Cuomo which stated that care homes should readmit patients who had a positive Covid case to increase hospital capacity.
There is a lot of anger among families of those who have been affected by Cuomo’s care home policy. There are questions as to why he gave this order, instead of utilising facilities such as the Javits Center, which were not used, but available during the pandemic. Furthermore, he spent the summer penning a book about the lessons in leadership he has learned in the past year. He was seen by many as the greatest American leader last year, due to his calm and collected style in comparison to that of the former President. Therefore, the information which is coming out now makes him appear hypocritical and disconnected from those he leads.
Whilst this would be enough to damage his career, he is also facing allegations of sexual assault from seven women: Lindsey Boylan, Charlotte Bennett, Anna Ruch, Ana Liss, Karen Hinton, Jessica Bakeman and an anonymous complainant. All their accounts highlight that Cuomo touched them in ways which could appear platonic, although they felt sexual. They all note that he would touch their lower backs, waist, legs or hands frequently without their consent. Boylan and Ruch both recount that Cuomo kissed them forcibly. Boylan and Bennett both state that he proposed sex or a relationship with them. These allegations span a wide range of time, with the oldest complaint from Hinton being when Cuomo served in Clinton’s cabinet, and the most recent coming from this past year. Significantly, Cuomo has denied both Boylan and Hinton’s allegations, claiming that they are false.
Cuomo is facing a lot of pressure from all sides of the political spectrum. His own party authorised a committee to begin an impeachment investigation and the Democrats have openly called for his resignation on the national stage. He has responded that he will not resign because he was democratically elected to this position.
The report into his mishandling of death statistics was published in January though, and almost two months later he is still facing the heat. With an impeachment and FBI investigation underway, this political controversy is set to stick around for some time. He is up for re-election in 2022, and could face a strong primary challenge from within his own party. It will take time to understand how much these allegations will tarnish his legacy, but for now, he has fallen from grace.