NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Stunning charges have been levied against Gov. Andrew Cuomo. He has been accused of creating a toxic workplace culture that includes bullying and sexual harassment.
His accusers are two former staffers, including New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio‘s former press secretary, CBS2’s Marcia Kramer reported.
Cuomo was at a no-press-allowed opening of a Queens vaccination site on Wednesday, joking about how he would personally vaccinate state Sen. Leroy Comrie.
“I get to select the part of the anatomy where I do the vaccine,” Cuomo said.
But that was the last New Yorkers were to see of him. A promised availability never materialized after two aides former attacked his workplace conduct, accusing him of being a bully and sexually inappropriate.
One salvo came from Karen Hinton, de Blasio’s former press secretary, who wrote of working for Cuomo in 1995 when he was the federal housing secretary.
“He made me feel as if I were no good at my job and thus totally dependent on him to keep it,” Hinton wrote, adding, “… working for him is like a 1950s version of marriage. He always, always, always comes first. Everyone and everything else — your actual spouse, your children, your own career goals — is secondary. Your focus 24 hours a day is on him.”
The second salvo came from Lindsey Boylan, a former top aide who originally accused him of sexual harassment in a series of tweets last December.
At that time, personnel memos made public indicated that Boylan resigned the state post after she was confronted about complaints about her own office behavior towards several female employees. She was charged with harassing and belittling them.
When Boylan first went public in December, Cuomo said, “I totally respect a woman’s right, fought for a woman’s right, to express any concern, any issue that she has in the workplace. I support that. But the tweets were simply not true.”
Watch Marcia Kramer’s report —
Boylan, a candidate for Manhattan borough president, has now gone further, writing, “Gov. Andrew Cuomo has created a culture within his administration where sexual harassment and bullying is so pervasive it is not only condoned but expected.”
She claims the governor once said, “Let’s play strip poker,” on a flight from western New York in October 2017.
Her accusations were hotly disputed by Team Cuomo.
“As we said before, Ms. Boylan’s claims of inappropriate behavior are quite simply false,” said Caitlin Girouard, the governor’s press secretary.
Team Cuomo also disputed the strip poker comment, releasing flight manifests and a statement from four aides.
“We were on each of these October flights and this conversation did not happen,” the aides said.
Boylan also charges there was an incident in 2018 when she was in his New York City offices when he kissed her on the lips.
This comes as other public officials say Cuomo bullied them.
“On a phone call, berated me for ten minutes,” Assemblyman Ron Kim said in an interview with CBS2’s Dick Brennan last week.
At the time, Kim said Cuomo threatened him after he criticized Cuomo’s handling of the nursing home controversy.
“He said that I haven’t seen his anger and his ability to, you know, destroy my career, and he will go out tomorrow and say stuff just to ruin my livelihood,” he said.
Cuomo also denies Kim’s allegations.
State Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart Cousins called the claims by Boylan “deeply disturbing,” and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie called the allegations “serious.”
Both New York Senate and Assembly leaders issued statements, calling the allegations serious and disturbing, and they said there is no place for that kind of behavior in the workplace.
CBS2’s Dick Brennan contributed to this report.