A third former aide of New York Gov. Andrew CuomoAndrew CuomoZeldin says he's in remission after treatment for leukemia Letitia James holding private talks on running for New York governor: report Governors brace for 2022 after year in pandemic spotlight MORE (D) has come forward with allegations of sexual harassment, including inappropriate remarks and unsolicited touching while she worked in his office.
Ana Liss, who served as a policy and operations aide in Cuomo’s office from 2013 to 2015, told The Wall Street Journal in an interview published Saturday that Cuomo asked if she had a boyfriend and also called her “sweetheart.”
Liss, now 35, also said that Cuomo on one occasion touched her lower back at a reception, and also once kissed her hand when she sat up from her desk, which was near the governor’s office in the Executive Chamber of the New York State Capitol in Albany.
The former aide told the Journal that while she initially saw Cuomo’s behavior as harmless, she eventually perceived it as patronizing, adding that she felt diminished from an educated professional to “just a skirt.”
“It’s not appropriate, really, in any setting,” Liss said of Cuomo’s alleged behavior.
Rich Azzopardi, a senior adviser to Cuomo, told the Journal in response to Liss’s allegations Saturday, “Reporters and photographers have covered the governor for 14 years watching him kiss men and women and posing for pictures. At the public open-house mansion reception, there are hundreds of people, and he poses for hundreds of pictures. That’s what people in politics do.”
The new allegations come after Cuomo pledged this week to not resign amid a series of harassment claims, with the governor instead apologizing for acting “in a way that made people feel uncomfortable.”
“It was unintentional, and I truly and deeply apologize for it. I feel awful about it, and frankly, I am embarrassed by it. And that’s not easy to say. But that’s the truth,” Cuomo said during a Wednesday press briefing.
Two other former aides, Charlotte Bennett and Lindsey Boylan, have come forward in recent weeks with harassment allegations, and another woman, Anna Ruch, said Cuomo put his hand on her lower back at a wedding reception before moving it to her cheeks and asking if he could kiss her.
Cuomo responded to Ruch’s allegations by explaining that the way in which he was photographed grabbing Ruch’s face was his “customary way of greeting.”
The Journal on Saturday reported that more than 30 officials who either currently work or have worked in Cuomo’s office described a high-pressure work environment, with Liss and other current and former officials saying that the governor would regularly ask women about their dating lives, touch them and comment on their physical appearance.
Liss and other former officials told the Journal that longtime staffers told women to wear high heels while the governor was at his office in Albany, though Azzopardi on Saturday denied these claims.
The Washington Post on Saturday reported that interviews with several former Cuomo aides indicated a repeated history of a “hostile, toxic workplace,” throughout his three decades in public office, including in his role as head of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development in the late 1990s and early 2000s.