New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) is facing fresh allegations of inappropriate behavior from a current aide, the New York Times reported on Friday night.
Alyssa McGrath, an employee of the governor’s office, told the Times that she had a number of uncomfortable encounters with Cuomo that included him ogling her body and remarking on her looks, making suggestive comments, and asking about the status of her divorce. She also recounted to the Times an occasion where the governor looked down her shirt and commented on a necklace she wore there.
McGrath is the first current aide in the governor’s office to speak out publicly about the governor’s alleged harassment and inappropriate conduct.
McGrath did not accuse the governor of making sexual contact, though she said that she believed that his actions could be considered sexual harassment.
McGrath also said that her closeness with the governor may have held her back from other opportunities. According to the Times, she sought a different job in state government in 2019, and was told that the governor’s fondness for working with her would get in the way of her taking the new position.
Her allegations come as multiple women have accused the governor of inappropriate behavior, that in some cases has included unwanted touching and sexual advances.
Cuomo has denied any wrongdoing, and insisted that he never touched anyone inappropriately.
Another current aide accused Cuomo of groping her in the Executive Mansion last year. McGrath said that the aide, who had not been publicly identified, described the encounter in detail to her after the allegations were reported in The Times Union of Albany earlier this month.
“She froze when he started doing that stuff to her,” McGrath told the Times, adding, “But who are you going to tell?”
In interviews with the Times, McGrath described a toxic cocktail of sexual innuendo and efforts by the governor to build competitive relationships between female co-workers in his office.
Mariann Wang, a lawyer for McGrath told the Times that “this would be unacceptable behavior from any boss, much less the governor.”
“The women in the executive chamber are there to work for the State of New York,” Wang said, “not serve as his eye candy or prospective girlfriend.”
On Friday, Rita Glavin, a lawyer for Cuomo, responded to McGrath’s allegations in a statement to the Times. She suggested that the governor had an “old-fashioned” style of greeting with both men and women that at times included hugs and kisses on the cheek, forehead or hand.
“None of this is remarkable, although it may be old-fashioned. He has made clear that he has never made inappropriate advances or inappropriately touched anyone,” she said.
Amid the allegations of sexual harassment and inappropriate behavior, in addition to a parallel scandal involving altering COVID-19 deaths among nursing home residents, a group of Democrats from New York’s congressional delegation to call for his resignation. Cuomo has resisted those calls urging people to reserve judgment until after the state’s attorney general Letitia James concludes an investigation into the matter.
President Joe Biden on Tuesday said that if the attorney general’s investigation confirms the allegations made by Cuomo’s accusers, the governor should resign.
McGrath told the Times that she grew angry while watching a news conference earlier this month in which the governor denied having “touched anyone inappropriately.”
“It makes me really upset to hear him speak about this and completely deny all allegations,” she told the Times. “And I have no doubt in my mind that all of these accusers are telling the truth.”