Blowback after former Cuomo staffer accuses him of kissing her without her consent

Mary Margaret Olohan, DCNF

  • A former staffer for Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo alleged Wednesday that he kissed her without her consent.
  • Lindsey Boylan originally accused Cuomo of sexual harassment in December but waited to share details of her allegations until Wednesday. 
  • “We were in his New York City office on Third Avenue,” she said. “As I got up to leave and walk toward an open door, he stepped in front of me and kissed me on the lips. I was in shock, but I kept walking.”

A former staffer for Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo alleged Wednesday that he kissed her without her consent.

Lindsey Boylan originally accused Cuomo of sexual harassment in a December tweet thread. She did not respond to enquiries from the Daily Caller News Foundation, but shared details of her allegations in a Medium post Wednesday.

Boylan described Cuomo’s behavior and workplace as riddled with “pervasive harassment.”

“He made unflattering comments about the weight of female colleagues,” she said. “He ridiculed them about their romantic relationships and significant others. He said the reasons that men get women were ‘money and power.’”

Boylan worked for the Cuomo administration from March 2015 until October 2018, according to the New York Post. She is running for Manhattan borough president.

Boylan said she tried to excuse Cuomo’s alleged behavior until the governor allegedly kissed her without her consent during a one-on-one briefing.

“We were in his New York City office on Third Avenue,” she said. “As I got up to leave and walk toward an open door, he stepped in front of me and kissed me on the lips. I was in shock, but I kept walking.”

“After that, my fears worsened,” Boylan said. “I came to work nauseous every day. My relationship with his senior team — mostly women — grew hostile after I started speaking up for myself. I was reprimanded and told to get in line by his top aides, but I could no longer ignore it.”

Before this incident, she said, other employees had told her that the governor had reportedly compared her to his ex-girlfriend but said that she was better looking. Her boss also reportedly told her that Cuomo had a “crush” on her, and Cuomo allegedly suggested “let’s play strip poker” on a flight after an official trip.

“Stephanie Benton, Director of the Governor’s Offices, told me in an email on December 14, 2016 that the Governor suggested I look up images of Lisa Shields — his rumored former girlfriend — because ‘we could be sisters’ and I was ‘the better looking sister,’” she said. “The Governor began calling me ‘Lisa’ in front of colleagues. It was degrading.”

Cuomo’s office has not responded to requests for comment from the DCNF.

New York state senator Alessandra Biaggi expressed support Wednesday for Boylan’s allegations, saying in a tweet: “I have no doubt that this is true. I’ve witnessed similar behavior, and it’s unacceptable. While the abuse lies mainly with the abuser, the abuse also extends to those who help keep it silent. They are complicit too.”

I hope @LindseyBoylan’s words weigh heavy on all who normalize sexual harassment by saying nothing,” she said. 

Karen Hinton, who formerly worked as both New York Bill DeBlasio’s press secretary and as Cuomo’s press secretary when he was federal housing secretary, also spoke out against what she called “penis politics” in a Wednesday New York Daily News op-ed.

“The recent spate of stories about Gov. Cuomo’s penchant for bullying isn’t about behavior that’s unusual in politics,” she said, calling Cuomo the “master” of “penis politics.”

Hinton said Cuomo worked to undermine her in the job that he gave her in 1995 and made her feel as if she “were no good” at her job “and thus totally dependent on him to keep it.”

“In Cuomo’s world — and he would never admit this even to himself — working for him is like a 1950′s version of marriage,” she wrote. “He always, always, always comes first. Everyone and everything else — your actual spouse, your children, your own career goals — is secondary. Your focus 24 hours a day is on him.”

“If you need more time with your own family, he will treat you like you are cheating on him,” she continued. “If you have your eye on another, better job, he’ll try to make that job disappear. Escaping Cuomo is tough because he has to exercise total control.”

Hinton also criticized DeBlasio for practicing “a different brand of penis politics” by marking discussions with staff “by condescension” and causing female staff to feel marginalized.

“It made for an uncomfortable work environment,” she said. Cuomo’s office did not respond to requests for comment regarding Hinton’s remarks.

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