Gov. Andrew Cuomo has been quick to call for the resignations of powerful Albany lawmakers accused of sexually harassing aides — including known harassers Vito Lopez, Micah Kellner and Dennis Gabryszak — but refuses to heed his own advice now that he’s the one facing multiple claims, critics argue.
The third-term Democratic governor faces three accusations of sexual harassment of his own within the last week, and has been called on by Democrats and Republicans alike to step down.
“Shouldn’t the governor, the most powerful official in New York, be held to at least the same ethical standard as an Assembly member?” said John Kaehny, executive director of watchdog group Reinvent Albany.
“Not so long ago, Governor Cuomo demanded that two Assembly members ‘immediately deny’ allegation of sexual harassment or resign. Powerful words. Does the governor hold himself to the same standard?”
In 2012, Cuomo demanded that Brooklyn Assemblyman Vito Lopez resign from his post after two female aides accused him of groping, kissing and verbally abusing them.
“Sexual harassment at the workplace cannot be tolerated in any shape or form … these are serious allegations and if true, the governor believes he should resign,” Cuomo spokesman Josh Vlasto said at the time.
Cuomo even threatened to intervene in an investigation run by the state’s Joint Commission on Public Ethics, when it came to light that ex-Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver — now sitting in federal prison on unrelated corruption charges — quietly approved a settlement between Lopez and aides.
Lopez, who died in 2015, ended up resigning in 2013 and was fined hundreds of thousands of dollars.
“Just like [President Donald] Trump, Cuomo is trying to create two systems of justice: one for everyone else, and a special one for himself. His abuse of women shows he’s unfit to hold public office. He must resign or be removed,” said Rita Pasarell, a co-founder of the Sexual Harassment Working Group and former staffer to Lopez.
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