ALBANY, N.Y. —Two more former aides to Gov. Andrew Cuomo have accused the third-term Democrat of inappropriate behavior, marking the fourth and fifth women to raise allegations against the governor in recent weeks.
Ana Liss, who worked as a policy and operations aide to Cuomo from 2013 to 2015, alleged that the governor had “asked her if she had a boyfriend, called her sweetheart, touched her on her lower back at a reception and once kissed her hand when she rose from her desk,” The Wall Street Journal reported Saturday.
Liss, 35, said the actions occurred during her first year as she sat at her desk near his office in the Capitol’s Executive Chamber, according to the newspaper. She also alleged that Cuomo “hugged her, kissed her on both cheeks and then wrapped his arm around her lower back and grabbed her waist” while working at a May 6, 2014, reception at the Executive Mansion.
Liss, now director of the Department of Planning and Development for Monroe County in upstate New York, said she did not make a formal complaint about the governor’s behavior and eventually asked for a transfer to another office, the Wall Street Journal reported. She said her experience working for Cuomo led her to seek mental health counseling in 2014.
Cuomo spokesperson Rich Azzopardi, in response to the allegation, said “reporters and photographers have covered the governor for 14 years watching him kiss men and women and posing for pictures.”
“At the public open house mansion reception there are hundreds of people and he poses for hundreds of pictures,” he said in a statement. “That’s what people in politics do.”
Other former staffers accused Cuomo of inappropriate workplace behavior in a Washington Post report published Saturday. One of them is Karen Hinton, who worked for Cuomo as a press aide in the 1990s when he was the U.S. housing secretary. Hinton told the Post Cuomo invited her to his hotel room in 2000 when she was working as a consultant and embraced her in a way she said was “very long, too long, too tight, too intimate.”
Cuomo’s office denied the allegation, with Peter Ajemian telling the Post “This did not happen.”
The governor said Wednesday in his first press conference since former aides began coming forward with allegations that his “usual custom is to kiss and to hug and make that gesture.”
“I understand that sensitivities have changed and behavior has changed, and I get it. And I’m going to learn from it,” he said.
Cuomo has faced growing calls for his resignation after former staffer Lindsey Boylan detailed allegations of sexual harassment against late last month. Two more women — former aide Charlotte Bennett and Anna Ruch, who met Cuomo for the first time at a wedding — have since accused the governor of making unwanted advances.
In a Sunday morning tweet, Boylan called on the governor to quit. “Resign, you disgusting monster,” she wrote.
The governor had already been under fire for his handling of Covid-19 in nursing homesand for misrepresenting the number of deaths.
Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins said Thursday that “any further people coming forward, I think it would be time to resign.”