Gov. Andrew Cuomo is not the only one who should face consequences for his sexual harassment scandal. According to the report compiled by New York Attorney General Letitia James, a cadre of staffers helped the governor fend off these allegations by targeting his accusers.
The New York Times reported that Cuomo depended on close members of his staff to craft a strategy involving the discrediting of the women accusing him of behaving inappropriately. This retaliation tactic was designed to cow into silence other women who might step forward with allegations.
The group huddled in the State Capitol office of Melissa DeRosa, the governor’s top aide, and launched an effort to discredit the woman, Lindsey Boylan, collecting a box of personnel files filled with sensitive information that they thought would undermine her credibility.
The attorney general’s report exposed how the governor was relying on individuals inside and outside of his administration. The New York Times noted that he consulted “leaders of groups dedicated to supporting gay rights and victims of sexual harassment” and that these people helped him “fine-tune” his reaction to the accusations.
As RedState’s Nick Arama reported, two leaders of Time’s Up, an anti-sexual harassment organization formed as a response to the #MeToo movement, assisted Cuomo in drafting a letter intended to cast doubt on Lindsay Boylan’s claims.
CNN media activist Chris Cuomo, the governor’s brother, was also part of the cabal. He coached the governor on how he could deflect criticisms related to the scandal.
The New York Times noted that even after the release of the report, Gov. Cuomo is continuing to “lean on his closest aides and his team of lawyers,” as they attempt to figure out how to salvage his political career. However, it seems that his behavior, even outside of the sexual harassment allegations, has pushed away many potential allies.
In the governor’s decade-long tenure, he has navigated Albany’s byzantine ways and steered the state’s bureaucracy using brute political force and heavy-handed tactics of bullying and intimidation. He has alienated many people along the way, narrowing his circle of confidants.
However, there are others who are still in Cuomo’s corner. Melissa DeRosa, the governor’s top aide, was one of the individuals who tried to dig up information on Boylan that could discredit her. A former staff member claimed DeRosa “pressured” her to call another staffer, referred to in the report as Kaitlin, who expressed support for Boylan and record the conversation.
The report also explained that Linda Lacewell, the superintendent of the Department of Financial Services, and two outside actors including Steven M. Cohen, a friend and former employee of Cuomo, and Alphonso David, the governor’s former legal counsel.
The report goes on to outline the involvement of various other individuals who participated in the effort to turn Boylan’s accusations back on her. In the letter – which was never released – they pointed out that Boylan allegedly called Cuomo “handsome” and told other employees that she “loved” him. One adviser suggested that they intimate that the accuser was a Trump supporter.
Despite the fact that the letter was not published, the attorney general’s report noted that a journalist saw a draft of the document, and parts of it were “communicated to another reporter.”
Those who collaborated with Cuomo to shield him from accusations of sexual impropriety enabled him to continue avoiding scrutiny. These are people who did not bother trying to understand Boylan’s side of the story nor that of others who claimed he harassed and assaulted them.
At this point, it seems unlikely that criminal charges will be filed against Cuomo or his minions. But it seems that civil suits could be forthcoming. However, nobody familiar with the situation has indicated whether such an effort would target the individuals who sought to help Cuomo avoid consequences for his alleged actions.
However, it seems appropriate that the people who enabled Cuomo should also be held accountable. While they may not deserve the same fate as the governor, helping someone cover up this type of scandal is still reprehensible. Still, it’s worth recognizing that even if a civil action is not taken against these individuals, their reputations will undoubtedly suffer. That might have to be good enough.