- Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York is resigning after a decade in office.
- A bombshell investigation concluded that Cuomo sexually harassed 11 women.
- Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul is taking over the governorship.
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New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is resigning after a bombshell report from independent investigators hired by the New York attorney general’s office found he sexually harassed 11 women in violation of state and federal law while in office.
Most of the 11 women, seven of whom were partially or fully identified by name, worked directly in his administration. The women said they experienced inappropriate behavior from Cuomo in the workplace, including improper touching, kissing, and sexual and romantic advances.
In a pre-recorded statement aired after the report’s release, Cuomo continued to defend himself against the allegations and maintain that he “never touched anyone inappropriately” while apologizing to one accuser, Charlotte Bennett, for his conduct towards her.
After the report’s release, Cuomo and his lawyers criticized the probe as politically motivated and biased, sought to undermine the credibility of some of the accusers, and strongly signaled he wouldn’t leave office and would fight and impeachment probe.
But Cuomo reversed course, announcing on August 10 that his resignation “will be effective in 14 days.”
Both conservative Republicans and progressive Democrats alike in the state legislature are united in their disdain for Cuomo’s leadership and have strongly condemned the compounding allegations of harassment. Democrats now hold supermajorities in both legislative chambers.
In addition to the attorney general’s investigation, the state assembly, led by Speaker Carl Heastie, had been pursuing an impeachment inquiry since March that took on a renewed vigor following the investigators’ report.
While Cuomo is known for the hard-charging and confrontational approach to politics that powered his rise to power, it left him with few vocal allies in Albany, with top Democrats chomping at the bit to impeach and remove him.
The last shoe dropped for Cuomo when his top aide Melissa DeRosa announced her resignation from the governor’s office on Sunday.
The last time a governor resigned was in early 2oo8, when former Gov. Eliot Spitzer left office after he admitted to having extramarital affairs with sex workers. At that time, Lieutenant Governor David Paterson stepped in as governor and served until 2010, when Cuomo (formerly New York’s attorney general) won election to the governorship.
When Cuomo resigns, the state’s Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul will take office and serve out the rest of Cuomo’s term until 2023. Hochul will be New York’s first female governor.
“I agree with Governor Cuomo’s decision to step down,” Hochul said in a Tuesday statement. “It is the right thing to do and in the best interest of New Yorkers. As someone who has served at all levels of government and is next in the line of succession, I am prepared to lead as New York’s 57th Governor.”
Hochul, who hails from western New York, cut her teeth in Erie County government before winning a 2011 special election for New York’s 26th congressional district.
As a former staffer for the late Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan, Hochul earned a reputation as a well-connected and helpful ally for upstate issues in Washington.
In 2014, Cuomo named her as his running mate for reelection after Robert Duffy announced he would not run again as lieutenant governor. Lieutenant governors are elected separately from governors in New York.
Hochul has been a steady and vocal supporter of Cuomo since joining the administration, traversing the state in her characteristically packed public schedule to tout key initiatives.