January 28, 2023

Two other women came forward to accuse New York Governor Andrew Cuomo of inappropriate behavior, according to reports from the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post.

A former press secretary, Karen Hinton, told the Post that Cuomo invited her to his dimly lit hotel room after a work event in Los Angeles in 2000, hugged her when she tried to leave, and then pulled her back when she pulled away withdrew.

Ana Liss, another ex-aide for Cuomo, said the governor hugged and kissed her on both cheeks and grabbed her waist in 2014, the Journal reported.

The new allegations add to pressure on the Democratic governor, who is facing heat over previous allegations of sexual harassment, as well as a scandal surrounding his government’s handling of care home deaths in Covid.

Current Cuomo spokesmen responded to the new allegations, both released on Saturday.

Cuomo’s communications director Peter Ajemian said Hinton’s allegations “did not materialize”. Rich Azzopardi, a senior advisor to Cuomo, said of Liss’s report that “reporters and photographers have been covering the governor for 14 years, watching him kiss men and women and pose for pictures”.

“There are hundreds of people at the open house mansion’s public reception and he’s posing for hundreds of pictures,” Azzopardi said. “That’s what people do in politics.”

On Friday, New York State legislature passed a bill to remove the contested governor of the temporary powers he was given to fight the pandemic. Cuomo suggested they sign the bill.

In late January, New York Attorney General Letitia James said the Cuomo government had fallen as much as 50% below the number of Covid deaths related to nursing homes.

Cuomo has claimed the state did not cover up the deaths but said last month that “we should have done better to provide as much information as possible as soon as possible”.

James is currently overseeing an investigation into allegations of sexual harassment against Cuomo by several women who came forward in the past two weeks.

Lindsey Boylan, a former state business development representative who is now running for president of Manhattan borough, wrote in a media post on Feb. 24 that Cuomo had “abused his governor’s power to sexually harass me, as he did so many other women had done “.

Cuomo’s office strongly denied Boylan’s allegations, including the fact that the governor kissed her without consent and invited her to play strip poker while on a flight.

Days after Boylan’s explosive post, Charlotte Bennett, another former Cuomo adviser, told the New York Times that the governor had asked her about her sex life and whether she “had ever been with an older man.”

“I understand the governor wanted to sleep with me,” Bennett told the Times.

Cuomo, 63, said in a statement that Bennett “has every right to speak” but alleged that he “never made any progress against Ms. Bennett” and never intended “to act in a way that was inappropriate” .

On Monday, the Times published claims by another woman, Anna Ruch, who said Cuomo put his hand on her bare lower back and asked her to kiss her when she first met him at a wedding in 2019.

Cuomo apologized “for the pain I caused” at a press conference on Wednesday saying, “I now understand that I did something that made people feel uncomfortable.”

The governor said he would not resign.

Hinton’s alleged encounter with Cuomo came after a labor event in 2000 when Cuomo was Secretary of State for Housing and Urban Development under President Bill Clinton. Hinton had been a communications officer at the agency before leaving in 1999 after a screaming match with Cuomo, the Washington Post reported.

In December 2000, she agreed to work as a paid consultant to arrange coverage of Cuomo’s trip to Los Angeles to sponsor a HUD program. After the event, Cuomo invited her to his dim hotel room for a chat, Hinton told the Washington Post.

As she got up to leave, Cuomo hugged Hinton in what the Post described as “very long, too long, too tight, too intimate.” She said she pulled back and Cuomo pulled her back for another hug, and at that point she left.

Ajemian, Cuomo’s communications director, said Hinton “is a well-known antagonist of the governor trying to take advantage of this moment to score cheap points on trumped-up charges 21 years ago.”

“All women have the right to come forward and tell their story. However, it is also the responsibility of the press to think about self-motivation,” said Ajemian. “It’s inconsiderate.”

Liss, who was a counselor to Cuomo between 2013 and 2015, said Cuomo called her sweetheart and asked personal questions, including whether she had a boyfriend, the Journal reported.

Liss told the Journal that she felt that Cuomo’s behavior at work reduced her to “just a skirt”.

Boylan tweeted support messages for Hinton and Liss on Saturday night.