A former member of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s administration who previously accused him of sexual harassment has added to the allegations, saying he once kissed her on the lips without consent.
- Lindsey Boylan says Andrew Cuomo compared her to one of his rumoured ex-girlfriends
- Mr Cuomo’s spokeswoman Caitlin Girouard said the “claims of inappropriate behaviour are quite simply false”
- Ms Boylan made the new accusations in an online blog post
Lindsey Boylan said during her more than three years in the Democrat’s administration, Mr Cuomo “would go out of his way to touch me on my lower back, arms and legs”, compared her to one of his rumoured ex-girlfriends and once suggested they should play strip poker.
Mr Cuomo’s spokeswoman, Caitlin Girouard, said Ms Boylan’s “claims of inappropriate behaviour are quite simply false”.
But the state legislature’s two top leaders criticised Mr Cuomo’s alleged conduct as calls grew for an investigation.
Ms Boylan, a Democrat running for Manhattan borough president, made the new allegations in a post on the website Medium more than two months after she first spoke up about alleged mistreatment by Mr Cuomo.
At the time, she hadn’t provided details, saying she had “no interest in speaking to journalists”.
But on Wednesday local time, she attributed her decision to say more to New York State Assembly member Ron Kim’s public accusations last week that Mr Cuomo and his aides had bullied and threatened him.
She said the kiss happened at the end of a one-on-one meeting with Mr Cuomo at his New York City office.
“As I got up to leave and walk toward an open door, he stepped in front of me and kissed me on the lips,” Ms Boylan said.
“I was in shock, but I kept walking.
Ms Boylan, a former deputy secretary for economic development and special adviser to the Governor, confirmed she had written the blog entry but declined to be interviewed.
Criticism against Cuomo grows
When Ms Boylan initially tweeted in December that Mr Cuomo sexually harassed her, the Governor denied he did anything inappropriate.
“Look, I fought for and I believe a woman has the right to come forward and express her opinion and express issues and concerns that she has,” Mr Cuomo told reporters.
“But it’s just not true.”
Not quite a year ago, the three-term Governor was at the height of his popularity during the early stages of the coronavirus pandemic, holding widely watched daily briefings where he implored people to take the virus seriously.
In recent weeks, however, criticism about his office’s work culture and how he wields his power has mounted.
Mr Cuomo’s support has eroded over his perceived imperious style and revelations that his administration withheld details from the public about the pandemic’s death toll in nursing homes.
New York State Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, a Democrat, called Ms Boylan’s account “deeply disturbing”.
“Harassment in the workplace of any kind should not be tolerated,” said Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, also a Democrat.
‘Governor has a crush on me’: Boylan
Ms Boylan, who joined the administration economic development agency in early 2015, said she first met Mr Cuomo at a Madison Square Garden event in January 2016.
“My boss soon informed me that the Governor had a crush on me,” Ms Boylan wrote.
Ms Boylan included a screenshot of a text message exchange with her mother in November 2016, in which Ms Boylan said Mr Cuomo was being “creepy” and “has a crush on me”.
She also wrote that the Governor’s staff needlessly enquired about whether she planned to go to events he was attending.
She shared a screenshot of a December 14, 2016 email, in which an aide wrote the Governor had compared Ms Boylan to a woman he was rumoured to have dated.
“You could be sisters. Except you’re the better looking sister,” the aide wrote.
Ms Boylan wrote that after a holiday party in Albany that month, the Governor summoned her to his office, where he showed her a cigar box he had received from former president Bill Clinton.
Mr Cuomo “didn’t touch me”, Ms Boylan wrote, but the one-on-one encounter made her uncomfortable.
During an October 2017 flight, Mr Cuomo allegedly said: “Let’s play strip poker”, as they sat with a press aide and a state trooper.
She said she brushed it off by sarcastically saying: “That’s exactly what I was thinking.”
However, she said she privately found the comment upsetting.
The Governor’s office confirmed Ms Boylan flew with Mr Cuomo on four occasions that month, but that other aides present disputed her account.
“We were on each of these October flights and this conversation did not happen,” said a statement attributed to former senior adviser, John Maggiore, former Empire State Development CEO, Howard Zemsky, former Cuomo press secretary, Dani Lever and former first deputy press secretary, Abbey Fashouer Collins.
Call for investigation into Cuomo’s behaviour
Ms Boylan asserted Mr Cuomo created a culture of pervasive sexual harassment, including making unflattering comments about female colleagues’ weight, ridiculing their romantic relationships and having roses delivered to them on Valentine’s Day.
Ms Boylan said two other former staffers, which she did not identify, had privately confided in her that they were also the target of his sexual harassment.
The Sexual Harassment Working Group, an advocacy group launched by former state legislative employees who experienced sexual harassment, called for an independent investigation into Mr Cuomo’s workplace behaviour.
Mr Cuomo was in a long-term relationship with celebrity chef Sandra Lee throughout the timeframe laid out in Ms Boylan’s accusations.
The couple split in 2019.
Personnel memos written in 2018, obtained by the AP, indicated Ms Boylan resigned after she was confronted about complaints she belittled and yelled at her staff.
Ms Boylan said those records “were leaked to the media in an effort to smear me”.
In her post, she offered a different reason for her departure, saying her relationship with Mr Cuomo’s “senior team — mostly women — grew hostile after I started speaking up for myself”.
“I was reprimanded and told to get in line by his top aides, but I could no longer ignore it,” Ms Boylan wrote.