Pictured: Left – Sandra Lee, Cuomo’s longtime partner. Right – The women who ‘handled Cuomo’s diary.‘
The New York Post:
“SANDREW” was the perfect couple. The beautiful and warm TV cooking-show star softened the gruff, hard-charging governor’s sharp edges. Her telegenic smile seemed to transform his perpetual scowl.
During their 14 years together Sandra Lee never publicly criticized her life partner, and Andrew Cuomo gushed about the “godsend” who helped him raise his three daughters. When she became sick with cancer, he was seen as a loving fixture by her side.
In September 2019, the fairytale romance suddenly unraveled and a disbelieving public clamored to know why. Now, as a tornado of sexual-harassment charges swirls around Cuomo, the first clues may be emerging.
Lee, ever composed, remains outwardly stoic and above the fray — even as multiple sources told The Post they suspect Cuomo was cheating on her with at least one staffer and possibly several.
“Sandra’s gone silent and her silence is deafening,” said the insider. “The question is, is Sandra being silent out of grace and dignity, or is she being silenced out of fear of retaliation?” Lee did not comment.
Cuomo told The Post: “Any suggestion that I had a sexual relationship with any member of my staff or that I was unfaithful to Sandy is false.”
Following the devastating breakup, Lee, 54, started a new life in Malibu, Calif. She refused to speak to The Post about her relationship with Cuomo, 63, or the ugly allegations that have led to a state investigation and calls for impeachment.
Still, reports and investigations into whether Cuomo sexually harassed staffers in and around the workplace have raised questions about how his alleged behavior affected his last long-term relationship, and if his pursuit of other women could have contributed to the mysterious break-up.
The Post also spoke to staffers who claimed that Lee was kept at arm’s-length while Cuomo spent time with favored colleagues around the clock. And the allegations from female staffers of improper flirting, touching and comments going back 21 years have raised questions about whether Cuomo was faithful during his relationship with Lee.
A former senior Cuomo staffer said ominously: “Andrew’s treatment of Sandra is part of the puzzle that will finalize the picture about this guy.”
Sources told The Post how Cuomo threw boozy parties at the pool house in the governor’s mansion and “movie nights” attended by female staffers, all without Lee, who often traveled to the West Coast to care for her family.
Five former Cuomo staffers told The Post they are convinced he became involved, or pursued intimate relationships, with a small number of staffers while living with Lee.
“It was an open secret,” said one ex-aide. “Andrew was sleeping with at least one other woman who wasn’t Sandra” before they officially ended their relationship.
Cuomo is notoriously secretive about his life and tightly controls what is revealed about his personal and working relationships, as evidenced by his continuing use of a BlackBerry, sources said. Even though Cuomo’s office announced in November 2019 that staffers’ BlackBerrys were being phased out for iPhones, the governor still uses one. According to Politico, Cuomo preferred BlackBerry’s PIN-to-PIN messaging system to avoid paper trails. A former staffer told The Post: “Andrew was extremely security-conscious; if he was doing anything, you would not be able to find it out.”
Liss continued, “I know from my time working there that Sandra was very clearly kept away from Andrew by the folks controlling his schedule. She was only brought forth in public on certain special occasions. Given the lack of frequency of their time spent together publicly and privately, it had a performative nature about it. It felt like watching Princess Diana. She [Sandra] is a beautiful, statuesque woman who complemented the governor’s gruffness.
“She never stayed at the mansion that I was aware of,” said Liss, who added that it “did strike me as odd that he was rarely at home with her.”
In his 2014 book, “All Things Possible: Setbacks and Success in Politics,” Cuomo gushed about Lee, writing: “Why she got involved with me I don’t know. I was not much of a catch. But Sandy was. Smart, successful and gorgeous, she had launched her flagship show, ‘Semi-Homemade Cooking with Sandra Lee,’ a few years earlier.