The investigators looking into sexual harassment claims against Gov. Cuomo have wide, sweeping powers and are paid as much as $750 per hour

cuomo scandals
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

  • The investigators reviewing sexual harassment claims against Gov. Andrew Cuomo are being paid as much as $750 per hour.
  • Attorney General Letitia James hired the independent investigators after several women came forward with allegations Cuomo.
  • The Daily News reported that the investigators have wide, sweeping power to conduct the probe freely.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The investigators leading the probe into the numerous sexual harassment allegations against New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo are being paid as much as $750 an hour.

According to the New York Daily News, which obtained internal documents through FOIA requests, the investigators have wide, sweeping powers to conduct the investigation.

Attorney General Letitia James hired out the independent investigators after several women came forward with allegations that the governor made inappropriate and sexually harassing remarks or advances toward them.

Former Acting US Attorney for New York’s Southern District Joon Kim and employment discrimination attorney Anne Clark are in charge of spearheading the probe.

Their offices are “authorized to utilize any of its resources as it deems appropriate to carry out” the investigation, the documents say, according to the Daily News.

Both firms have been retained for a period of at least six months, the Daily News reported. But James is able to extend the contracts as she deems necessary.

Their work comes at a hefty cost, documents obtained by the Daily News reveal. Top-level partners working on the investigation receive as much as $750 per hour. Even mid- and lower-level partners are raking in large sums of money to carry out the probe. Mid-level partners, for example, get $575 per hour, and junior-level partners $500. Senior associates will receive $450 per hour and junior associates $325, the Daily News reported.

The investigators will prepare and deliver weekly progress reports to First Deputy Attorney General Jennifer Levy. At the end of their investigation, they will produce a written report with all their findings and conclusions, the Daily News reported.

The investigation was prompted in part by state and federal lawmakers coming out in support of one.

Since December, Cuomo has faced several sexual harassment accusations. The first one was from a former aide who in December said she had been sexually harassed by the governor “for years.” At the time, Lindsey Boylan, who worked for the governor between 2015 and 2018, did not divulge specific information about the circumstances and declined to speak to journalists.

But in February, Boylan broke her silence in a Medium post, said Cuomo had touched her inappropriately and kissed her without her consent.

Cuomo’s office has repeatedly denied her claims. “As we said before, Ms. Boylan’s claims of inappropriate behavior are quite simply false,” press secretary Caitlin Girouard said in a statement.

Since Boylan’s accusations surfaced, at least 10 other women have come forward with similar allegations of their own against the governor.

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Pelosi stops short of urging Cuomo to resign, says he should ‘look inside his heart’ ‘to see if he can govern effectively’

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is meeting with White House officials to hash out a deal on another coronavirus rescue package.

  • House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Sunday did not join her Democratic colleagues in calling for Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s resignation.
  • In recent weeks, women came forward with allegations that Cuomo sexually harassed them.
  • High-profile Democrats like Sen. Majority Leader Chuck Schumer have called on him to resign.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi stopped short on Sunday of calling for New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s resignation.

Meanwhile, her Democratic colleagues in both the House and the Senate have urged the governor to resign after multiple allegations of sexual harassment surfaced against him.

After former Cuomo aide Lindsey Boylan came forward in December with allegations that Cuomo sexually harassed her for years, other women began to speak up as well.

Several said Cuomo sexually assaulted or behaved inappropriately around them. Some said he touched them without consent, and others documented detailed accounts and patterns of verbal abuse.

Powerful Democratic lawmakers in New York such as Sen. Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand have called on him to resign.

Pelosi, however, when asked whether she believed Cuomo should resign, skirted the question.

Speaking on ABC News’ “This Week” on Sunday, Pelosi said she wants to see the results of the investigation into the claims of harassment. The claims against him “must be treated with respect,” she said.

“They are credible and serious charges,” she continued. “I have confidence in the attorney general of New York. She has called for an I think expeditious investigation.”

When asked whether she believed Cuomo could be an effective leader for the state of New York at this time, Pelosi avoided answering directly.

“I think we should see the results” of the investigation, she said. “Hopefully this result will be soon. And what I’m saying is the governor should look inside his heart. He loves New York.”

He should “see if he can govern effectively,” she added.

Cuomo’s office did not immediately return a request for comment.

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One of Cuomo’s accusers criticized Biden and Harris for staying silent on sexual harassment allegations in a now-deleted tweet

biden harris speech
Vice President Kamala Harris speaks on International Women’s Day as President Joe Biden (L) and Air Force General Jacqueline Van Ovost (R) listen during an announcement at the East Room of the White House March 8, 2021 in Washington, DC

  • Biden and Harris have not yet commented on the sexual harassment allegations against Cuomo.
  • One of Cuomo’s accusers, Lindsey Boylan, criticized them for staying silent in a now-deleted tweet.
  • Boylan’s tweet questioned the White House’s “courage” and “judgment” for not weighing in on the scandal.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Lindsey Boylan, a former aide to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the first woman to accuse him of sexual harassment, has criticized President Joe Biden and Vice President Harris for their silence on the scandal.

Boylan, who said in an essay that she worked for Cuomo until he tried to kiss her without her consent, questioned the “courage” of both Biden and Harris in a tweet that has since been deleted, Fox News reported.

“The governor has denied all wrongdoing,” Boylan wrote in the first of two posts. “He got on his platform today and said, ‘there are many motivations of why people do things.’ He is calling up hate and speculation to be directed to his accusers. All harm and hate directed at the women sits squarely on @NYGovCuomo.”

In the second now-deleted tweet, Boylan took aim at the White House. “It also calls into question the judgment and courage of both @POTUS and @KamalaHarris,” she wrote.

deleted tweet cuomo accuser
An image of Boylan’s now-deleted tweet.

Neither Biden nor Harris has publicly commented on the string of allegations against Cuomo. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki, however, addressed the scandal in a press briefing on Friday.

“The President believes that every woman who’s come forward – there have now been six, I believe, who have come forward – deserves to have her voice heard, should be treated with respect, and should be able to tell her story,” Psaki told reporters.

Cuomo is facing calls to resign from a number of high-profile politicians. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand said in a joint statement that Cuomo “should resign.”

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and a dozen other New York lawmakers have also demanded Cuomo’s resignation over accusations of engaging in “a pattern of sexual harassment and assault” and for hiding data on COVID-19 nursing home deaths.

Cuomo has apologized for previous behavior but has refused to step down.

“I did not do what has been alleged, period,” Cuomo said in a Friday conference call.

“People know the difference between playing politics, bowing to cancel culture, and the truth,” the governor added.

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New York lawmakers are calling for an independent investigation into sexual harassment allegations against Cuomo

andrew cuomo leak
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo

  • Top New York lawmakers have come out in favor of an independent investigation into Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
  • Two former staffers have publicly alleged they were sexually harassed by the New York governor.
  • Cuomo’s office said there would be an investigation, but critics worry his pick to conduct one will not be impartial.  
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

State and federal lawmakers are coming out in support of an independent investigation into sexual harassment allegations against New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo. 

In December, a former aide said she had been sexually harassed by the governor “for years.” At the time, Lindsey Boylan, who worked for the governor between 2015 and 2018, did not divulge specific information about the circumstances and declined to speak to journalists. 

But last week, Boylan broke her silence in a Medium post, said Cuomo had touched her inappropriately and kissed her without her consent

Cuomo’s office has repeatedly denied her claims. “As we said before, Ms. Boylan’s claims of inappropriate behavior are quite simply false,” press secretary Caitlin Girouard said in a statement.

The New York Times on Saturday published the account of a second former aide who said Cuomo made unwanted sexual advances toward her multiple times. 

“I understood that the governor wanted to sleep with me, and felt horribly uncomfortable and scared,” Charlotte Bennett told the Times. “And was wondering how I was going to get out of it and assumed it was the end of my job.”

Cuomo’s office denied her claims and said the governor had always “tried to act as a mentor to Bennett.” His office also announced a “full and thorough outside review” into Bennett’s allegations.

Former federal judge Barbara Jones, who has close ties to a Cuomo advisor, has been tapped to carry out the investigation. Lawmakers are not convinced that her investigation will be fair and objective.

Instead, they’re calling for New York Attorney General Letitia James to determine the third party that conducts the investigation.

“The recent allegations of sexual harassment against Governor Cuomo are deeply troubling and deserve a thorough investigation,” said New York Rep. Jerry Nadler. “It must be transparent, impartial, and above all else, independent. As has become standard practice in the State of New York when allegations relate directly to the Executive, Governor Cuomo should refer the matter to the Attorney General, who should, in turn, appoint an independent investigator.”

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York also called for an independent investigation, saying in a tweet that Boylan and Bennett’s accounts “are extremely serious and painful to read.”

New York Rep. Antonio Delgado echoed those sentiments, saying Cuomo “should follow precedent by referring this matter to the Attorney General.”

“Breaking from past practices in the face of such serious allegations is not acceptable,” Delgado added.  

“The accused CANNOT appoint the investigator,” New York Rep. Kathleen Rice said. “PERIOD.”

Some state legislators are siding with the House dems as well. 

“I believe the Attorney General should make an appointment to ensure that it is a truly independent investigation,” Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie wrote on Twitter.

President Joe Biden on Saturday also indicated that he supports an independent probe into the allegations.

Cuomo’s office did not immediately return Insider’s request for comment.

James in a tweet Sunday morning said she stands “ready to oversee that investigation and make any appointments necessary” but awaits the governor’s call to initiate an investigation. 

“Given state law, this can only be accomplished through an official referral from the governor’s office and must include subpoena power,” James said. “I urge the governor to make this referral immediately.”

 

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A 2nd former aide has come forward to accuse Andrew Cuomo of sexual harassment

andrew cuomo
New York state Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks at a news conference on September 08, 2020 in New York City.

  • A former Cuomo aide alleged the governor sexually harassed her last spring.
  • Charlotte Bennett, 25, said Cuomo made sexual advances and asked her inappropriate questions.
  • The news comes days after another ex-Cuomo aide wrote a Medium essay detailing similar allegations.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

A second former aide has come forward to allege that New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo sexually harassed her, asking deeply personal questions about her sex life and making strange comments about her experience as a sexual assault survivor.

In an interview published Saturday, Charlotte Bennett, 25, told The New York Times that Cuomo had made unwanted sexual advances towards her in several different encounters last spring.

“I understood that the governor wanted to sleep with me, and felt horribly uncomfortable and scared,” Bennett told the Times. “And was wondering how I was going to get out of it and assumed it was the end of my job.”

The news comes just days after another former Cuomo aide, Lindsey Boylan, published a Medium essay alleging several years of sexual harassment at Cuomo’s hands, including an unwanted kiss on the lips. Cuomo has denied Boylan’s allegations.

Cuomo’s office provided Insider with a statement denying that the governor made advances toward Bennett and saying he hadn’t intended to act inappropriately during their conversations. Cuomo’s statement also called for a “full and thorough outside review” of Bennett’s allegations and urged New Yorkers to withhold judgment until its findings are made public.

“Ms. Bennett was a hardworking and valued member of our team during COVID. She has every right to speak out,” Cuomo’s statement said, adding that he had tried to act as a mentor to Bennett. “When she came to me and opened up about being a sexual assault survivor and how it shaped her and her ongoing efforts to create an organization that empowered her voice to help other survivors, I tried to be supportive and helpful.”

Cuomo continued: “The last thing I would ever have wanted was to make her feel any of the things that are being reported.”

Cuomo indoor dining mask
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo

Bennett said Cuomo responded strangely when she mentioned her experience as a sexual assault survivor

Bennett said the first disturbing incident involving Cuomo occurred on May 15 at the Capitol, when the governor asked her if she was romantically involved with other staff members. Later in the conversation, Bennett offhandedly mentioned her past as a sexual assault survivor and said that Cuomo had a bizarre reaction.

Bennett provided the Times with text messages she sent to a friend at the time about Cuomo’s remarks.

“The way he was repeating, ‘You were raped and abused and attacked and assaulted and betrayed,’ over and over again while looking me directly in the eyes was something out of a horror movie,” Bennett’s text said. “It was like he was testing me.”

Bennett told the Times another upsetting encounter occurred just weeks later, on June 5. On that occasion, she said Cuomo asked her personal questions about whether her romantic relationships were monogamous and if she had ever had sex with an older man.

Bennett said that Cuomo never touched her during these encounters but that she interpreted his comments as sexual advances.

The Times confirmed Bennett’s allegations with one of her friends, who was not identified, and Bennett’s mother, who she also told about the conversations.

Bennett said she told Cuomo’s chief of staff about the June 5 encounter just days later and gave a statement to a special counsel to the governor that same month. Bennett said she was then transferred to a new job, which she was happy with, and did not insist on an investigation because she “wanted to move on.”

A statement provided to Insider from Beth Garvey, special counsel and senior adviser to the governor, said Bennett’s allegations “were treated with sensitivity and respect and in accordance with applicable law and policy.”

Garvey said Bennett transferred to a job “in which she had expressed long-standing interest” and “expressed satisfaction and appreciation for the way in which it was handled.”

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Former Cuomo staffer says the New York governor sexually harassed her ‘for years’

gov andrew cuomo laguardia
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

  • A woman who was once an advisor to Andrew Cuomo said the New York governor sexually harassed her for years.
  • “Yes, @NYGovCuomo sexually harassed me for years,” said Lindsey Boylan, who worked for him between 2015 and 2018.
  • Boylan, who is a Democratic candidate for Manhattan Borough President, was an aide to Cuomo, as well as the deputy secretary for economic development, according to her LinkedIn profile.
  • In a series of tweets last week, Boylan called Cuomo’s office the “most toxic team environment,” saying that people don’t come forward because they’re afraid of the repercussions. 
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

A former aide to Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a tweet on Sunday that the New York official sexually harassed her for years while she was employed in his office. 

“Yes, @NYGovCuomo sexually harassed me for years,” said Lindsey Boylan, who worked for the governor between 2015 and 2018. Boylan was an advisor to Cuomo, as well as the deputy secretary for economic development, according to her LinkedIn profile.

“Many saw it, and watched. I could never anticipate what to expect: would I be grilled on my work (which was very good) or harassed about my looks. Or would it be both in the same conversation?” she tweeted. “This was the way for years.”

“Not knowing what to expect what’s the most upsetting part aside from knowing that no one would do a damn thing even when they saw it,” she added. “No one. And I *know* I am not the only woman.”

In a series of tweets last week, Boylan called Cuomo’s office the “most toxic team environment,” saying that people don’t come forward because they’re afraid of the repercussions. 

“If people weren’t deathly afraid of him, they’d be saying the same thing and you’d already know the stories,” she said, adding that she’s heard from others who’ve said similar things about working for him. Boylan did not give any names or more specific information last week when she called the office “toxic.”

Boylan said she goes to therapy to work out the trauma she’s experiencing from her three years in the governor’s office. 

Around the same time that Boylan worked for Cuomo, the lowest-paying jobs at his office belonged largely and disproportionately to women, according to a 2015 investigation done by Politico. Cuomo at the time had 96 women working in his office who had the lowest-paying jobs, while 52 men occupied the highest-paid positions with the most decision-making power. 

In her former role, Boylan wrote on her website that she “worked on some of the biggest issues facing New Yorkers, from helping to pass $15 minimum wage and paid family leave to developing workforce programs, creating jobs, and investing in small businesses.”

“I’ve worked hard my whole life. Hustled – fake it till you make it style,” she tweeted last week. “That environment is beyond toxic. I’m still unwrapping it years later in therapy!”

Cuomo, part of a longstanding New York political family – his father, the late Gov. Mario Cuomo, served for three terms, from 1983 to 1994 – was first elected governor in 2010 and is currently in his third term. Before his election as governor, he was the US Secretary of Housing and Urban Development from 1997 to 2001 under then-President Bill Clinton and served as New York’s Attorney General from 2007 to 2010.

Recent speculation has swirled around Cuomo possibly joining President-elect Joe Biden’s administration as attorney general, a prospect that Boylan firmly warned against.

“There are fewer things more scary than giving this man, who exists without ethics, even more control,” she wrote on Twitter. “I saw how he wielded power for years. He takes advantage of people, including me. I hope ⁦@JoeBiden⁩ & ⁦⁦@KamalaHarris⁩ don’t do this.”

Cuomo, who had received widespread praise this year for his coronavirus response, has touted himself as a progressive governor, pushing for the advancement of women. In January 2020, the governor signed a bill requiring an investigation of the number of women sitting on domestic and foreign boards that do business in New York. 

“From new pay equity laws to strongest-in-the-nation sexual harassment policies, New York is leading the fight for gender equality in the workplace – but our work won’t be done until women are better represented at the highest levels of organizations,” Cuomo said when he signed the legislation. 

In October 2015 – during the time of Boylan’s tenure at the governor’s office – Cuomo signed a $6.4 million legislation for a sexual assault prevention and assistance plan.

“This State has a legacy of leading the way in advancing equal rights – and today, we are making New York a model of equality for women,” he said in the press release announcing the effort.

In 2014, Cuomo referred to himself as a feminist

Cuomo’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Business Insider.

Without naming anyone, Boylan suggested there are others who have also experienced and witnessed Cuomo sexually harassing office workers. By engaging in this culture of sexual harassment against women, she said, Cuomo abuses his power.

GettyImages NEW YORK, NEW YORK - JUNE 17: Lindsey Boylan attends The 9th Annual Elly Awards Hosted By The Women's Forum Of New York on June 17, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images for Women's Forum of New York)
Lindsey Boylan attends The 9th Annual Elly Awards Hosted By The Women’s Forum Of New York on June 17, 2019 in New York City.

“I’m angry to be put in this situation at all. That because I am a woman, I can work hard my whole life to better myself and help others and yet still fall victim as countless women over generations have. Mostly silently. I hate that some men, like @NYGovCuomo abuse their power.”

Boylan did not respond to Business Insider’s requests for an interview. After Business Insider asked for comment, Boylan tweeted that she’s not interested “in talking to journalists.”

“I am about validating the experience of countless women and making sure abuse stops,” adding that the experiences are difficult to relive and talk about.

This past June, Boylan ran for Congress against House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler in the Democratic primary for New York’s 10th Congressional district. Nadler, who has served in House of Representatives since 1992, won the primary with 68% of the vote; Boylan came in second place, securing 22% of the vote.

Boylan recently joined the 2021 race for Manhattan borough president, where she hopes to succeed two-term incumbent Gale Brewer, who is term-limited. If she can win the Democratic primary, she’ll advance to the November election, where New Yorkers will also be choosing a new mayor to succeed Bill de Blasio, who is also term-limited.

On her Twitter page, she wrote that she was running for the borough presidency “to create a more equitable, sustainable, and livable city.”

She added: “Although we have many challenges ahead, I know that we can meet those challenges together and create lasting change for our city. Join me on this journey!”

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