New York Recap:
Governor Andrew Cuomo resigned from office on Tuesday (8/10), one week after the Attorney General released her report finding that Governor Cuomo had sexually harassed 11 women and retaliated against at least one of his accusers. According to his announcement, his resignation will be effective in 14 days.
After months of resisting the calls to step down from prominent political figures including President Biden, and Senator’s Kirsten Gillibrand and Chuck Schumer, Governor Cuomo relented, stating that “in my mind, I’ve never crossed the line with anyone, but I didn’t realize the extent to which the line has been redrawn. There are generational and cultural shifts that I just didn’t fully appreciate, and I should have.”
In February, the first public allegation against Cuomo was made by former Executive aid, Lindsey Boylan. Over the following weeks, more women stepped forward to accuse him of harassment and misconduct. Despite dozens of State and Congressional members calling for Cuomo to resign, the Governor asserted his innocence and instead directed his energy to building alliances with prominent community figures to expand access to vaccines in underserved areas.
Governor Cuomo both called for and supported an independent investigation conducted by Attorney General Letitia James – who Cuomo endorsed for AG – and encouraged “the people of New York to wait for the facts from the attorney general before forming an opinion.” Shortly after, the AG announced that her office would conduct an investigation into the harassment claims. As the investigation continued over the course of five months, the Governor and his staff began to question the integrity and the motives of the AG, suggesting that the investigation was politically motivated.
What’s This Mean?
Executive: On August 24th, Governor Cuomo will step down and Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul will assume the position of Acting Governor and serve the remainder of the term (November 2022). Hochul, a centrist Democrat from Western NY, joined Governor Cuomo’s team in 2014 and has held the largely ceremonial role of Lt. Governor. Hochul is a seasoned political veteran, having served as the Erie County Clerk (2007-2011) and then represented New York’s 26th District in Congress (2011-2013). After leaving Congress, Hochul worked as a government relations specialist with M&T Bank prior to joining Governor Cuomo’s Administration.
Upon her assuming the role of Acting Governor in two weeks, the responsibilities of the Lt. Governor will fall to Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, who will also continue to maintain her current position in the Senate. Hochul will be allowed to choose her own Lieutenant Governor and will likely make the announcement soon.
The media has reported that Lt. Governor Hochul has been planning for the transition, calling officials across NYS seeking advice on assembling her new team of staff and advisors.
Assembly: The Assembly is expected to conclude their independent investigation within the month. The scope of their investigation went beyond that of the AG’s and included the Governor’s pandemic book deal, the handling of nursing home deaths due to COVID, and the faulty Mario M. Cuomo bridge.
Assembly Judiciary Committee Chair Chuck Lavine announced that the Committee will provide public updates on 8/16 and 8/23 and subsequently hold public hearings on key subject matters where the Committee will hear from subject matter experts in the areas of sexual harassment and constitutional impeachment. Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie announced that the Assembly will produce a report upon completion of the investigation, but would no longer move to impeach Cuomo, citing constitutional concerns about impeaching a governor who was leaving office.
We will continue to provide you with information as we navigate, yet another, unprecedented period in NY history!