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Two female aides to Cuomo leave administration

Two more aides are leaving New York Gov. Andrew CuomoAndrew CuomoNew Mexico governor settles with former campaign aide over claim of unwanted sexual behavior Fauci fatigue sets in as top doc sows doubt in vaccine effectiveness New Mexico governor signs marijuana legalization bill MORE’s (D) administration as he faces sexual harassment allegations, as well as a scandal over coronavirus-related deaths in the state’s nursing homes.

Press secretary Caitlin Girouard is leaving for a new job in the private sector, she said in a statement. Additionally, interim policy adviser Erin Hammond is exiting her role to “focus on her family,” Bloomberg News reported Friday.

In both cases, the exits appear to have been planned before two female former staffers in Cuomo’s office and a third woman, Anna Ruch, came forward to accuse the New York governor of misconduct. Girouard said that she had accepted her new job offer on Jan. 26.

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"It's been the honor of a lifetime serving Governor Cuomo and this administration alongside the hardest working people in government for the past 2.5 years," Girouard said. "I'll forever be proud of the work we've accomplished together for the state of New York."

Still, their exits add to a growing list of resignations at a time when he faces deepening troubles. 

Earlier this week, top aide Gareth Rhodes left his role on the governor’s COVID-19 task force to return to his previous job as the deputy superintendent of the state Department of Financial Services. On Monday, Rhodes’s wife tweeted her support of Ruch, who has accused Cuomo of inappropriately touching her at a wedding reception in 2019.

The same day that Rhodes’s departure was announced, Will Burns, a deputy press secretary in the governor’s office, said he was stepping down to attend law school. 

Cuomo acknowledged at a press briefing Wednesday that some of his past remarks may have made women who worked for him “uncomfortable,” but he forcefully denied that he had ever touched anyone inappropriately without consent. 

After former Cuomo aide Lindsey Boylan published an essay last month detailing several alleged incidents of inappropriate conduct by the governor, Girouard issued a statement denying Boylan’s account outright, saying that the “claims of inappropriate behavior are quite simply false.”

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Between the sexual harassment allegations and a scandal over his administration’s decision last year to underreport coronavirus-related deaths in New York’s nursing homes, Cuomo is facing the most serious threat to his political career yet. 

State lawmakers are moving forward with a measure to strip the governor of the emergency powers he was granted at the outset of the coronavirus pandemic. And a growing number of officials on both sides of the aisle have called on him to resign, though he rejected those demands on Wednesday.

--Updated at 5:39 p.m.