Two more women who worked for Gov. Andrew Cuomo have come forward to describe conduct they felt was inappropriate for the workplace.
Ana Liss, 35, told The Wall Street Journal in a story published Saturday that when she worked as a policy aide to the governor between 2013 and 2015, Cuomo called her “sweetheart,” once kissed her hand and asked personal questions, including whether she had a boyfriend. She said he sometimes greeted her with a hug and a kiss on both cheeks.
Liss told the Journal she initially thought of Cuomo’s behavior as harmless, but it grew to bother her. She felt it was patronizing.
“It’s not appropriate, really, in any setting,” she said. “I wish that he took me seriously.”
A former press aide, Karen Hinton, told the Washington Post that Cuomo invited her to his dimly lit hotel room after a work event in Los Angeles in 2000, embraced her as she tried to leave and then pulled her back toward him as she pulled away.
A spokesman for Cuomo told the Journal that some of the behavior Liss was describing was the kind of innocent glad-handing that politicians often do at public events.
“Reporters and photographers have covered the governor for 14 years watching him kiss men and women and posing for pictures," said Rich Azzopardi, a senior advisor to Cuomo. "At the public open-house mansion reception, there are hundreds of people, and he poses for hundreds of pictures. That’s what people in politics do.”
Liss said she never made a formal complaint about the governor’s behavior.
Former press aide Hinton said she endured a “very long, too long, too tight, too intimate” embrace from Cuomo in a dimly lit Los Angeles hotel room in December 2000, she told the Post.
The married Hinton pulled away, but “he pulls me back for another intimate embrace,” she told the paper. “I thought at that moment it could lead to a kiss, it could lead to other things, so I just pull away again, and I leave.”
At the time, Cuomo led the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
A rep for Cuomo strongly denied Hinton’s allegation to the newspaper, claiming “this did not happen.”
“Karen Hinton is a known antagonist of the Governor’s who is attempting to take advantage of this moment to score cheap points with made up allegations from 21 years ago,” Peter Ajemian told the NY Post.
“All women have the right to come forward and tell their story,” he said. But he slammed Hinton’s account as “reckless.”
The NY Post reported Sunday that Hinton’s claims are made all the more startling given that her husband is lobbyist Howard Glaser, a longtime Cuomo ally and confidante who worked as his director of state operations and senior policy advisor until 2014.
Cuomo’s workplace conduct has been under intense scrutiny in recent days as several women have publicly told of feeling sexually harassed, or at least made to feel demeaned and uncomfortable by the Democrat.
Former adviser Lindsey Boylan, 36, said he made inappropriate comments on her appearance, once kissed her on the lips at the end of a meeting and suggested a game of strip poker as they sat with other aides on a jet flight. Another former aide, Charlotte Bennett, 25, said Cuomo asked if she ever had sex with older men and made other comments she interpreted as gauging her interest in an affair.
Another woman, who did not work for the state, described Cuomo putting his hands on her face and asking if he could kiss her after they met at a wedding.
In a news conference Wednesday, Cuomo denied ever touching anyone inappropriately, but apologized for behaving in a way that he now realized had upset women he worked with. He said he’d made jokes and asked personal questions in an attempt to be playful and frequently greeted people with hugs and kisses, as his father, Mario Cuomo, had done when he was governor.
“I understand sensitivities have changed. Behavior has changed,” Cuomo said. “I get it and I’m going to learn from it.”
The state's attorney general plans to hire an outside law firm to investigate the sexual harassment allegations. Some lawmakers have called for Cuomo to resign over his workplace behavior, and separate allegations that his administration misled the public about coronavirus fatalities in nursing homes.
The New York Assembly Republican leader, Will Barclay of Pulaski, said Sunday that Cuomo should resign immediately.
“In the wake of mounting sexual harassment allegations and a potentially criminal nursing home cover-up, Andrew Cuomo has offered excuses, explanations and half-hearted apologies," Barclay said in a statement.
"He must now offer his immediate resignation."
Barclay said Democrat majorities have shown no support for an impeachment commission and have still failed to utilize legislative powers to begin hearings and investigations of Cuomo on the sexual harassment allegations and the nursing home deaths scandal.
"But waiting is no longer a luxury that can be afforded to a governor who has lost our trust," Barclay said.