State Senator Anthony Palumbo (R-New Suffolk) has called on Governor Andrew Cuomo to resign, joining a growing list of legislators who have questioned the governor’s ability to continue leading the state amid an investigation into numerous sexual harassment allegations.
Mr. Palumbo issued a statement Thursday saying Mr. Cuomo should immediately resign to allow Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul to serve out the remainder of his term, which expires at the end of 2022.
“In the wake of numerous sexual harassment allegations and now a deeply disturbing claim of sexual assault against Governor Cuomo, I truly question his ability to lead our state through these difficult times,” said Mr. Palumbo, who is in his first term in the state Senate after previously serving in the Assembly. “While I am a firm believer in due process and feel strongly that everyone is entitled to their day in court, these scandals undermine the Governor’s ability to conduct his official duties and have irreparably damaged the public’s trust in the State’s top executive.”
The accusations continue to mount against Mr. Cuomo, a Democrat, ever since an initial story written Feb. 24 by a former aide, Lindsey Boylan, in which she accused the governor of sexually harassing her.
The most recent allegation is that Mr. Cuomo “aggressively groped” a female aide in the Executive Mansion late last year, according to a report in the Albany Times Union.
The newspaper did not name the staff member and sourced the story “to a person with direct knowledge of the woman’s claims.”
Six separate accusations have now been brought against the governor.
Mr. Cuomo has seen support from his own party wane. Andrea Stewart-Cousins, the majority leader in the state Senate, called on Mr. Cuomo to resign over the weekend, prior to the latest report. In a statement Thursday, more than 55 Democratic lawmakers called on Mr. Cuomo to resign.
“The governor needs to put the people of New York first,” the joint statement said. “We have a lieutenant governor who can step in and lead for the remainder of the term, and this is what is best for New Yorkers in this critical time. It is time for Governor Cuomo to resign.”
The governor has denied ever touching anyone inappropriately, but did acknowledge he made people feel uncomfortable.
“I now understand that I acted in a way that made people feel uncomfortable,” Mr. Cuomo said March 3. “It was unintentional and I truly and deeply apologize for it. I feel awful about it and frankly I am embarrassed by it.”
New York Attorney General Letitia James on Monday announced the two attorneys who will lead an independent investigation into the allegations of sexual harassment. She said former Acting U.S Attorney for the Southern District of New York Joon Kim and employment discrimination attorney Anne Clark will lead the investigation.
“There is no question that they both have the knowledge and background necessary to lead this investigation and provide New Yorkers with the answers they deserve,” Ms. James, who’s also a Democrat, said in a statement.
The attorneys will have the power to issue subpoenas as part of their investigation. The team will report back to the Office of the Attorney General and produce a written report with its findings once the investigation concludes.
Mr. Cuomo is in his third term as governor. He said on Sunday that he would not resign. The Associated Press reported that Mr. Cuomo told Ms. Stewart-Cousins that legislators would have to impeach him for him to leave office.
The governor was already facing backlash prior to the sexual harassment allegations over reports that the state withheld data on COVID-19 fatalities in nursing homes.
The governor, meanwhile, has continued to issue updates on Thursday related to the COVID-19 pandemic. He announced that domestic travelers would not longer be required to quarantine after entering the state starting April 1. The state Department of Health still recommends quarantine as a precaution. Mandatory quarantine remains in effect for international travelers.