- As scandals engulf Andrew Cuomo, more former staffers are opening up about his management style.
- “We’re all kind of waking up to the fact that we were in a cult,” one told The Gothamist.
- Cuomo’s penchant for micromanagement and peculiar tastes reportedly dominate the workplace.
- Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.
Long the subject of hush-hush anecdotes and off-the-record tales, details of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s management style are increasingly emerging as scandals rock his administration.
“We’re all kind of waking up to the fact that we were in a cult,” a former staffer told Gothamist in a new report published Thursday.
“A micromanager to the 100th degree,” another told the NYC web publication. “One of the worst I’ve ever seen.”
Speaking anonymously to protect against potential retribution from the governor and his allies in various corners of New York politics, the former employees explained the governor’s peculiar tastes and propensity to erupt over seemingly minor flubs.
“One staffer described an incident in Buffalo in 2017, where an aide briefly left his side, and Cuomo walked out onto the stage before being formally introduced by the loudspeaker. Embarrassed, he’d retreated back into the wings, ripping into the young staffer,” WNYC’s Gwynne Hogan wrote for Gothamist. “Cuomo fired the man on the spot, another staffer described, though his bosses kept him on without the governor’s knowledge.”
Cuomo also reportedly demands that all of his indoor events be conducted at a temperature between 67 and 71 degrees, with aides known to scramble for an AC unit at the last minute in an effort to accommodate for the governor’s ideal climate. At Cuomo speaking events, a pair of fans can often be spotted behind him.
How staff dressed when the governor was in the building – either the capitol in Albany or Cuomo’s NYC field office – was of utmost importance, the aides said. The proverbial “black dress” worn by women in the Cuomo administration was one of the key components, along with high heels and, for the men, spotless dress shoes.
“I knew by looking cute, and not being obstinate or opinionated, and doing what I was told and looking polished… That is the only way I would survive there,” one of the former staffers said.
Another former aide told Gothamist that they were abruptly flown back from a vacation so they could finish a task for the governor, and that having a “go bag” was just as much of a necessity as a Blackberry was in the Cuomo administration.
The effects of working in such an intense environment came with a personal toll, a former aide under the alias of Sarah told Gothamist.
After being told the governor “likes blondes,” Sarah said she was told “You gotta wear heels when he’s in Albany sweetie, that’s the rule.”
“I hate the fact that I viewed it as a professional, personal failure that I couldn’t survive because of how f—-ed up and mean and nasty everyone was,” she recalled. “Power was the number one goal. It wasn’t really about making things right or making things better for New Yorkers.”
Cuomo spokesman Rich Azzopardi pushed back against Gothamists’ reporting, including over a detail that the women in the NYC office identified as “mean girls,” calling it a “sexist and offensive” characterization.
“Yes, they have seen him get impatient with partisan politics and disingenuous attacks,” Azzopardi responded. “We have a top-tier team and the Governor is direct with people if their work is subpar because the people of New York deserve nothing short of excellence from us.”