Pressure is mounting on New York Governor Andrew Cuomo to resign after two new women came forward to accuse him of sexual harassment.
Among those piling pressure are the two top Democrats in New York’s state legislature.
State Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins additionally cited charges that Cuomo’s governing style created a “toxic work environment” and that his office under-reported the coronavirus death toll among nursing home residents.
“Everyday there is another account that is drawing away from the business of government,” Stewart-Cousins said in a statement.
“We need to govern without daily distractions. For the good of the state, Governor Cuomo must resign.”
House Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie followed with a statement in which he said he shares Stewart-Cousins’ sentiment “regarding the governor’s ability to continue to lead this state.”
“We have many challenges to address, and I think it is time for the governor to seriously consider whether he can effectively meet the needs of the people of New York,” Heastie said.
Earlier in the day, the most powerful New Yorker in Congress, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, called the allegations of unwanted advances and inappropriate remarks against his fellow Democrat “deeply troubling” and said he backed the investigation launched by state Attorney General Letitia James.
Cuomo for his part on Sunday repeated his pledge to remain in office and steer his state, the epicentre of the coronavirus pandemic last spring, through the COVID-19 crisis and onto the road to economic recovery.
“I’m not going to resign because of allegations,” Cuomo told reporters on Sunday, according to media reports.
“It’s damning to publicize allegations before you know that they are credible … Let the attorney general do her job.”
In the latest accusations, the Wall Street Journal reported on Saturday that a former aide, Ana Liss, said Cuomo in 2014 sometimes greeted her with a hug and kisses on both cheeks, called her “sweetheart,” kissed her hand and asked her if she had a boyfriend.
The Washington Post reported on Saturday that a former press aide, Karen Hinton, said that in 2000 Cuomo – when he was federal housing secretary under President Bill Clinton – embraced her in a hotel room after a work event.
The new accusations arose after three other women, two of them former aides, had accused Cuomo, 63, of harassing them through unwanted, sexually suggestive comments or inappropriate physical contact, including unsolicited kissing.
He has denied any misconduct and vowed to cooperate with the inquiry by James’ office.