New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) is now facing damaging allegations from all angles.
Several women have come forward in recent weeks to accuse Cuomo of sexual harassment and misconduct, leading the governor to hold a defiant press conference insisting he will not cede to Democratic lawmakers’ calls for him to resign. But just before Cuomo began telling reporters “I never abused anyone” and argued there are “often many motivations for making an allegation,” both The New York Times and Vanity Fair published new exposés on what it’s like to work for the governor.
Former Cuomo aide and State Senator Alessandra Biaggi tells the Times that working under Cuomo “is the worst place to be” for young women hoping to advance their careers. Dozens of sources interviewed by the Times describe a toxic environment where women are rewarded for adhering to archaic dress-code standards and trying to win favor with the governor in a “deeply chaotic, unprofessional” workplace. Most said they didn’t witness overt sexual harassment, but many said the allegations did not surprise them.
Meanwhile, Vanity Fair describes all kinds of unflattering anecdotes, reported by Cuomo biographer Michael Shnayerson. He recalls Cuomo following in his father’s gubernatorial footsteps, saying he “inspired both loyalty and fear” as he rose in the ranks. Cuomo reportedly repeatedly “demeaned his subordinates,” calling civil service staffers “f-ckheads” or “dumb f-cks.” Vanity Fair says he “pitted key advisers in direct competition,” and the Times similarly says staffers were made to “compete to earn his affection and avoid his wrath.”
The one-two punch of such harsh depictions of Cuomo’s leadership seem to indicate the floodgates have opened to release any and all criticism of the governor that staffers, former employees, and longtime acquaintances may have been holding back for years. Cuomo’s office continues to deny any accusations of wrongdoing and says it’s simply a matter of “tough jobs” with “demanding work.”
Though Vanity Fair says “the governor may not survive” this tsunami of scandal, Shnayerson also notes “after each of Cuomo’s struggles, he has ultimately prevailed.”