Lindsey Boylan, former Deputy Secretary for Economic Development and Special Advisor to Andrew Cuomo, has shared disturbing, detailed allegations of sexual harassment against the New York Governor.
Cuomo was hit with a shit ton of accusations this week with a reporter coming forward saying the Governor used his political clout to bully critics and staffers to former staffer telling their disturbing encounters with the self proclaim king of the world. This comes as last week a cover-up scandal was revealed surrounding the death toll of the coronavirus outbreak in New York’s nursing homes.
Lindsey Boylan, the former Chief of Staff at New York’s state economic agency, said in a Twitter thread that the governor took an “uncomfortable” interest in her after she was appointed to the role in 2015. “My boss soon informed me that the Governor had a ‘crush’ on me,” she wrote, saying she was told by the Director of the Governor’s Offices that Cuomo suggested she “look up images of Lisa Shields — his rumored former girlfriend — because ‘we could be sisters’ and I was ‘the better looking sister.'”
“The Governor began calling me ‘Lisa’ in front of colleagues,” she wrote. “It was degrading.”
Boylan wrote in her post that Cuomo one time kissed her on the lips as she was leaving a briefing with the governor.
The Governor’s pervasive harassment extended beyond just me. He made unflattering comments about the weight of female colleagues. He ridiculed them about their romantic relationships and significant others. He said the reasons that men get women were “money and power.”
I tried to excuse his behavior. I told myself “it’s only words.” But that changed after a one-on-one briefing with the Governor to update him on economic and infrastructure projects. We were in his New York City office on Third Avenue. As I got up to leave and walk toward an open door, he stepped in front of me and kissed me on the lips. I was in shock, but I kept walking.
After that, my fears worsened. I came to work nauseous every day. My relationship with his 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.
Boylan also said in her Twtter thread that Cuomo joked about playing trip poker with her during an October 2017 jet flight.
Cuomo quipped “let’s play strip poker” as they sat with a press aide and a state trooper. She said she brushed it off with a joke, sarcastically saying, “That’s exactly what I was thinking,” but said she privately found the comment upsetting.
Governor Cuomo’s office confirmed that Boylan had flown with the governor on four occasions in October 2017 and released a statement from four people who were on those flights who said the joke about strip poker never happened.
“We were on each of these October flights and this conversation did not happen,” said a statement attributed to former senior advisor John Maggiore, former Empire State Development CEO Howard Zemsky, Cuomo’s former press secretary Dani Lever and former first deputy press secretary Abbey Fashouer Collins.
Cuomo “didn’t touch me,” Boylan wrote, but she said the encounter made her deeply uncomfortable.
Boylan said when she was offered a promotion in 2018, she initially turned the job down because she didn’t want to work more closely with Cuomo. She said she agreed to take the position after the administration agreed to let her keep her old office on a separate floor.
Boylan claimed that besides her own experiences, the governor created a culture of pervasive sexual harassment, including making unflattering comments about the weight of female colleagues, ridiculing them about their romantic relationships and having roses delivered to female staff on Valentine’s Day.
“His inappropriate behavior toward women was an affirmation that he liked you, that you must be doing something right,” Boylan said. “He used intimidation to silence his critics. And if you dared to speak up, you would face consequences.”
Cuomo was in a long-term relationship with Food Network star Sandra Lee throughout the timeframe laid out in Boylan’s accusations. Cuomo announced his split from Lee in September 2019.
Boylan said two other former Cuomo staffers have privately confided in her that they were also sexually harassed by the governor in the workplace, including one who “lived in constant fear, scared of what would happen to her if she rejected the Governor’s advances.” She did not identify them.
Personnel memos written in 2018, obtained by The Associated Press, indicate that Boylan resigned after she was confronted about complaints she had belittled and yelled at her staff.
Boylan said those records “were leaked to the media in an effort to smear me.”
In her post on Medium, she offered a different reason for her departure, saying her relationship with 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.”
Cuomo was also accused by former journalist Morgan Pehme of threatening his career, and his former spokesperson Karen Hinton accused both Cuomo and New York Mayor Bill de Blasio of using “gender domination” to assert power over women.
Cuomo has also been accused of bullying by de Blasio and state Assemblyman Ron Kim.
The Sexual Harassment Working Group called for “an immediate independent investigation” of Cuomo.
Assemblywoman Patricia Fahy, an Albany Democrat, issued a statement Wednesday demanding “a timely and independent investigation.”