NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — There has been an odd twist to the charges of sexual harassment being brought against Gov. Andrew Cuomo. He met his latest accuser at the wedding of one of his top aides, and the aide’s wife is standing foursquare against the governor.
Gareth Rhodes must feel like he’s caught between a rock and a hard place — or in this case between his boss and his wife.
Cuomo’s latest accuser, Anna Ruch, was a guest at Rhodes’ wedding. She is not a state employee, CBS2’s Marcia Kramer reported Tuesday.
She told the New York Times that first, Cuomo, touched her bare lower back — and she moved his hand away. She then says he placed his hand on her face and asked to kiss her. Ruch says she pulled away, but apparently not before he kissed her cheek.
Rhodes’ wife, Alexa Kissinger, is taking sides — and it’s not the governor’s. She tweeted, in part, “I am so proud of Anna for sharing her story. This pattern of behavior is completely unacceptable.”
“I didn’t have a choice in his physical dominance over me at that moment. And that’s what infuriates me.”
I’m so proud of Anna for sharing her story. This pattern of behavior is completely unacceptable. https://t.co/dgD9xz1CK4
— Alexa Kissinger (@AlexaMKissinger) March 2, 2021
Kissinger also shared Anna’s story on Instagram.
Referencing earlier allegations, in a statement, Cuomo said in part, “I acknowledge some of the things I have said have been misinterpreted as an unwanted flirtation. I am truly sorry.”
New York State requires employers to have a written sexual harassment policy and mandates annual trainings for employees.
The law was signed by Gov. Cuomo in support of the Me Too movement. It does not only affect women.
“A recent report in January of 2018 showed that 43% of men have experience some form of sexual harassment in their lifetime,” said Charlene Obernauer, of the New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health.
Nearly 340 incidents of gender-based workplace harassment were reported to New York City’s Commission on Human Rights last year.
Watch Marcia Kramer’s report —
Meanwhile, Jay Jacobs, the head of the state Democratic Party, called on New Yorkers — Democrats and Republicans alike — not to pre-judge the harassment case until it’s fully investigated.
“I am not fast to just cast aside someone who has done so much for the state. Again, I don’t agree with everything and these allegations most certainly are disturbing,” Jacobs told CBS2’s Aundrea Cline-Thomas.
He is urging everyone to wait before taking sides.
“It was only incumbent upon all of us to be patient and wait for the results of that investigation,” Jacobs said.
So far, that hasn’t stopped a number of people from piling on and demanding the governor’s resignation.
All of this has come in the midst of continued silence from the governor’s office. It has been government by press release — COVID-19 and vaccine updates and an announcement of millions to buy surplus New York state agriculture products to feed the hungry.
Mayor Bill de Blasio was asked if the governor’s decision to go into hiding is hurting the city’s ability to partner with the state to fight the pandemic.
“I think all leaders have to answer tough questions from the media regardless of whether it’s convenient. The fact is the work we have to do right now is what matters, but in COVID, bringing the city back, bringing the state back,” de Blasio said.
And in another blow to the governor, the Assembly and the Senate announced Tuesday afternoon that a deal is in place to rescind Cuomo’s emergency pandemic powers and stop him from issuing any new statewide directives. The legislation, which is expected to be passed later this week, will allow current directives pertaining to preserving the public health to continue.
“I think everyone understands where we were back in March and where we are now. We certainly see the need for a quick response but also want to move toward a system of increased oversight, and review. The public deserves to have checks and balances. Our proposal would create a system with increased input while at the same time ensuring New Yorkers continue to be protected,” Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins said in a statement.
My understanding is that as early as this Friday we will pass legislation that will:
✅ repeal the extraordinary powers granted to the Governor last year
✅ provide for an orderly transition through the end of the disaster period https://t.co/Rq8nP6zCK8
— Carrie Woerner (@AMCarrieWoerner) March 2, 2021
“A year into the pandemic, and as New Yorkers receive the vaccine, the temporary emergency powers have served their purpose — it is time for them to be repealed,” Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie added. “These temporary emergency powers were granted as New York was devastated by a virus we knew nothing about. Now it is time for our government to return to regular order.”
The move to strip Cuomo of his powers could turn into an interesting Albany power struggle. He has to sign the bill. If he vetoes it, the Legislature would have to override the veto.
CBS2’s Aundrea Cline-Thomas contributed to this report.