- 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 Gothamist/WNYC.
- They described Cuomo’s penchant for micromanagement and peculiar tastes as dominating 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 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/WNYC in a report published Thursday.
Another described Cuomo as “a micromanager to the 100th degree,” adding, “One of the worst I’ve ever seen.”
In the past few weeks, three women have recounted instances of the governor making inquiries about their sex lives and, in two cases, kissing or attempting to kiss them. (Cuomo has denied that he did.) More accounts have since emerged of Cuomo’s intense workplace atmosphere.
Cuomo’s relationship with the state Legislature has also soured, with several Democratic lawmakers telling Insider they’re open to impeaching him if he won’t resign.
Speaking anonymously to protect against retribution from the governor and his allies in New York politics, former employees described to Gothamist/WNYC 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. “Cuomo fired the man on the spot, another staffer described, though his bosses kept him on without the governor’s knowledge.”
Cuomo was said to demand that the temperature at his indoor events be between 67 and 71 degrees, with aides sometimes scrambling for an air-conditioning unit at the last minute, the report said. At speaking events, a pair of fans can often be spotted behind him.
How staffers dressed when the governor was in the building – either the Capitol in Albany or Cuomo’s New York City field office – was of the utmost importance, the aides said: For women, high heels, and for men, spotless dress shoes.
“I knew by looking cute, and not being obstinate or opinionated, and doing what I was told and looking polished,” a former staffer said, adding, “That is the only way I would survive there.”
Another former aide said that they were abruptly flown back from a vacation so they could finish a task for the governor, adding that a “go bag” was just as much of a necessity as a BlackBerry was in the Cuomo administration.
Working in such an intense environment took a toll, one former aide told Gothamist/WNYC.
The aide said that after another woman in Cuomo’s office told her that the governor “likes blondes,” the woman added, “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,” the aide recalled. “Power was the number one goal. It wasn’t really about making things right or making things better for New Yorkers.”
A spokesman for Cuomo, Rich Azzopardi, pushed back on the reporting, including a detail that women in the New York City office were described as “mean girls,” calling it a “sexist and offensive” characterization.
“Yes, they have seen him get impatient with partisan politics and disingenuous attacks,” Azzopardi told Gothamist/WNYC. “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.”