Aides to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo called former employees to glean information about potential conversations they had with Lindsey Boylan a former aide who first accused Cuomo of sexual harassment in December, the Wall Street Journal reported Thursday.
“I felt intimidated, and I felt bewildered,” Ana Liss, a former aide to the governor who received one of the calls in December, told WSJ.
The governor’s office made calls to Liss and at least five other former employees either to find out if they had heard from Boylan or to gather information about her in conversations that some said they saw as attempts to intimidate them, WSJ said.
Some of the people who received the calls said they hadn’t heard from the administration in months before they were called about Boylan. One said a caller encouraged them to give reporters any information that would discredit the former aide, who worked for the Cuomo administration between 2015 and 2018 and alleged in tweets that he “sexually harassed me for years,” and that “many saw it, and watched.”
One recipient of a call said the caller asked in December if Boylan had been in touch and what they thought of her claims.
Another said that a call from a Cuomo administration masked an underlying message.
“The subtext was clear: I was being asked to dish dirt on her,” the person receiving one of the calls told WSJ.
The calls were made by current administration officials and former aides who are still close to the governor’s office at the request of Melissa DeRosa, the governor’s top aide, people familiar with the effort told WSJ.
Liss, who earlier this month also accused Cuomo of inappropriate behavior, told WSJ that a senior adviser to the governor, Rich Azzopardi,, called her on Dec. 21.
The call came just a week after Boylan, Cuomo’s first accuser, posted an essay to Twitter alleging that the governor sexually harassed her.
Boylan alleged Cuomo had tried to kiss her on the lips in his office and on another occasion suggested they play strip poker, allegations that Cuomo has denied.
At the time of the call, Liss told WSJ she hadn’t worked for the governor in over five years and it was uncommon for the administration to get in touch with her.
According to the WSJ report, Liss said that during the call she was reminded of all that she had accomplished while working for the governor and was also asked if she had been messaged by Boylan.
In a statement to WSJ, Azzopardi defended the calls, saying that he hadn’t intimidated anyone and that the governor’s office”proactively reached out to some former colleagues to check in” after alleging that some former staffers had been upset by outreach from Boylan, her lawyers and members of the press.
After the WSJ story was published, Boylan tweeted that she didn’t reach out to anyone in December and didn’t have a lawyer at the time.