Politics & Policy

Cuomo Administration Leaked Sexual Harassment Accuser’s Personnel File to Press: Report

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo speaks at the COVID-19 vaccination site at Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York City, March 8, 2021. (Seth Wenig/Pool via Reuters)

Aides to New York governor Andrew Cuomo allegedly leaked the personnel file of a former staffer to the press after she accused the governor of sexually harassing her in a series of tweets in December.

According to The New Yorker, a group of current and former Cuomo staffers decided to release the personnel record of Lindsey Boylan, the former deputy secretary for economic development and special adviser to the governor, after she said Cuomo had sexually harassed her “for years.” 

“Many saw it, and watched,” she wrote in a tweet.

The report says senior aide Melissa DeRosa, Cuomo spokesperson Rich Azzopardi, and former secretary to the governor Steven Cohen, worked to squash Boylan’s accusations “in real time” and decided to expose the record, which included allegations that Boylan had bullied colleagues, some of whom were women of color. 

When Boylan’s allegations surfaced, the Cuomo administration was already facing a brewing scandal over its mishandling of nursing homes during the coronavirus pandemic and the alleged coverup that followed.

“The decision was made collectively,” a source reportedly told the magazine. “That these are facts, the reporters should see them.”

Former Cuomo communications director Rich Bamberger, an intermediary who says he was not on the calls, reportedly called a number of reporters and encouraged them to reach out to the governor’s office.

Azzopardi then reportedly sent Boylan’s personnel files to reporters. Stories about the complaints against Boylan appeared in the Associated Press, the New York Post, and the Albany Times Union.

Cuomo aides then began contacting people who had worked under Boylan, according to reports, and also considered releasing a letter attacking Boylan’s credibility and reputation, though they decided against doing so.

“My life was, you know, for a period, destroyed,” Boylan told The New Yorker. 

Cuomo’s acting counsel Beth Garvey defended the decision to leak the personnel record in a statement to the magazine, saying: “With certain limited exceptions, as a general matter, it is within a government entity’s discretion to share redacted employment records, including in instances when members of the media ask for such public information and when it is for the purpose of correcting inaccurate or misleading statements.”

Two months after posting the allegations on Twitter, Boylan published an essay on Medium expounding upon the claims. She detailed an increasingly uncomfortable relationship she developed with the governor, in which he sought her out and set up one-on-one meetings with her.

The governor ultimately kissed her during one of those meetings, she says.

Since Boylan published her essay in February, at least seven other women have come forward with harassment allegations against Cuomo. 

Earlier this month, after a sixth accusation was brought against Cuomo, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, both Democrats from New York, joined most of the state’s congressional delegation in urging the third-term governor to resign.

The Times Union reported then that a member of the executive chamber staff, whose name the paper withheld, said the governor “reached under her blouse and began to fondle her” last year at the Executive Mansion after she had been called in to do work, according to the report.

New York State Assembly speaker Carl Heastie, a Democrat from the Bronx, later announced that the body’s judiciary committee would open an impeachment inquiry into the governor’s conduct.

Cuomo has repeatedly denied the allegations, saying last week that it is “reckless and dangerous” for politicians to call for his resignation before the investigations have concluded.

“Women have a right to come forward and be heard, and I encourage that fully. But I also want to be clear: There is still a question of the truth. I did not do what has been alleged, period,” Cuomo said on a call with reporters.

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