Feb 28, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Cuomo says words may have been "misinterpreted" following allegations of harassment

Andrew Cuomo seen wearing a shirt and jacket

Andrew Cuomo at a Feb. 22 news conference. Photo: Seth Wenig/pool/AF via Getty Images

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued a lengthy statement on Sunday saying he "never inappropriately touched anybody" but acknowledged that "some of the things I have said have been misinterpreted as an unwanted flirtation," after two of his former aides accused him of sexual harassment.

Why it matters: Prior to Cuomo's statement, in which he adds that he "never inappropriately touched anybody" or meant to make anyone uncomfortable, the governor's office and the state attorney general went back and forth in a public disagreement about how to investigate the allegations.

Details: Charlotte Bennett, a former health policy adviser and executive assistant to Cuomo prior to her departure in November, alleges that Cuomo asked her questions about romantic relationships that "she interpreted as clear overtures to a sexual relationship," the New York Times reports.

  • Lindsey Boylan, a former New York economic development official, alleges that Cuomo at one point gave her "an unsolicited kiss in his Manhattan office," per the Times.

What he's saying: "I never intended to offend anyone or cause any harm. I spend most of my life at work and colleagues are often also personal friends," Cuomo said in a statement on Sunday evening.

  • "At work sometimes I think I am being playful and make jokes that I think are funny. I do, on occasion, tease people in what I think is a good natured way. I do it in public and in private. You have seen me do it at briefings hundreds of times. I have teased people about their personal lives, their relationships, about getting married or not getting married. I mean no offense and only attempt to add some levity and banter to what is a very serious business."
  • "I now understand that my interactions may have been insensitive or too personal and that some of my comments, given my position, made others feel in ways I never intended. I acknowledge some of the things I have said have been misinterpreted as an unwanted flirtation. To the extent anyone felt that way, I am truly sorry about that."
  • "To be clear I never inappropriately touched anybody and I never propositioned anybody and I never intended to make anyone feel uncomfortable, but these are allegations that New Yorkers deserve answers to."
  • "That's why I have asked for an outside, independent review that looks at these allegations."

Go deeper: Cuomo asks for “independent” investigator into sexual harassment claims.

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