The New York State Assembly’s damning report following an eight-month investigation of former Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s behavior while in office should serve as a cautionary tale for government at all levels.
The report, released by the Assembly’s Judiciary Committee on Monday, was unambiguous in concluding that the former governor, who finally resigned in August, had engaged in sexual harassment of no fewer than 11 women. But that wasn’t all: Mr. Cuomo, whose heavy-handed style inevitably promoted a dysfunctional executive branch and an uncomfortable environment, at the very least, for women, also used state workers and other resources for a pet project, a memoir about his tenure during the Covid-19 pandemic. In light of this report, Mr. Cuomo’s statements in self-defense ring especially hollow today.
It’s hardly a stretch to assume that any woman, in virtually any workplace, at any time in the 20th century, could painfully recollect men’s unwanted advances, demeaning comments, or worse, that pollute the environment, often leaving lasting if unseen trauma. In the year 2021, this kind of piggish, domineering behavior should have been well in the rearview mirror. Alas, a popular three-term governor who should have known better remained in denial to the very end.
Our own Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr. called Monday’s issuance of the Assembly’s report “a sad chapter in New York State history,” citing the former governor’s “clear and undeniable malfeasance serious enough to justify impeachment.”
Representative Lee Zeldin, the Republican Party’s presumptive nominee for governor in next year’s election, predictably used the report to attempt to link Gov. Kathy Hochul, his potential opponent, to her predecessor’s wrongdoings. While there are scant issues on which we agree, Mr. Zeldin was right on Andrew Cuomo.
Let this report remind every elected official, from East Hampton Town Hall to the White House, in whom the public has placed its trust that theirs is a solemn duty to treat everyone, including and especially those with whom they work, with nothing less than professionalism and respect.