During March of 2020, New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo was one of the most influential political figures, with much of the country tuning in to his daily COVID briefings. His rational approach to slowing the spread of COVID reassured Americans during a time of great uncertainty, fear, and loss. His avid supporters, including television host Ellen DeGeneres, referred to themselves as “Cuomosexual.” There was even talk of him running for president on the Democratic ticket in 2020, and his name was later mentioned as a possible Attorney General. It is truly astounding just how much can change in a year. This March, he is facing potential impeachment for sexual assault allegations and for downplaying the COVID death data from nursing homes.
Cuomo, who stated he “never intended to make anyone uncomfortable” has clearly done the opposite. Jessica Bakeman, a Miami reporter, is the seventh person to accuse Cuomo of sexual harassment. In her brutally honest essay entitled Cuomo Never Let Me Forget I Was a Woman for New York Magazine, Bakeman described how he inappropriately touched her at a holiday party in 2014 and refused to let go, causing her severe discomfort and humiliation. She stated, “He wanted me to know that I was powerless, that I was small and weak, that I did not deserve what relative power I had: a platform to hold him accountable for his words and actions. He wanted me to know that he could take my dignity away at any moment with an inappropriate comment or a hand on my waist.” The demeaning politician was also accused of groping a female aide in the Governor’s residence in Albany. An anonymous woman stated that Cuomo told her that he needed help with his cellphone then led her into a room in his residence and proceeded to aggressively grope her. In response to this and several other accusations, Cuomo stated, “I have never done anything like this.”
Additionally, Cuomo has been lying to the American public about COVID death data in New York nursing homes, under-reporting the number of deaths. Many people have accused him of being directly responsible for residents’ deaths. He allegedly ordered Covid-positive residents who had been discharged from hospitals to return to their nursing homes, thereby spreading the disease among at-risk residents. On January 19, 2021, the official tally of 8,505 deaths in nursing homes jumped to 12,743. Once commended for his transparency, Cuomo now has several politicians pressuring him to resign, including Senate majority leader Chuck Shumer, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, and Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Cuomo has refused to step down, demanding that a full investigation be held. Further, he insists that he “never had any inappropriate sexual relationships. Period.” Should Cuomo resign or be impeached, he will be replaced by Democrat Lt. Governor Kathy Hochul, who would be the first female Governor of New York.