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Area lawmakers react to allegations by former Cuomo aides

Feb 28, 2021

Several area lawmakers have commented after the news broke Saturday night in the New York Times that a second former aide, Charlotte Bennett, has accused Gov. Andrew Cuomo of sexual harassment.

On Sunday, Cuomo released a statement, 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.

 "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."

 

Some area lawmakers commented over the weekend on the report about the allegations from the 2 former staffers:

Congressman Joe Moelle, (D-25),  a former Majority Leader of the New York State Assembly, tweeted Saturday night "we have a responsibility to take all accusations seriously, which is why I support a thorough and independent review.”

State Senator Samra Brouk (D-55), said on Twitter: “As additional sexual harassment allegations against the governor have come to light today, I join my colleagues in the legislature in calling for a complete, independent investigation of these accusations. Independent must mean truly independent, and therefore, I call for the State Attorney General’s office to lead this important and timely investigation. This is the only way to reach a fair conclusion and to bring justice for the women who have come forward. This behavior will not be tolerated.”

Assemblymember Jen Lunsford (D-125), said on Twitter, “we can not and we will not tolerate sexual harassment. The Governor is not exempt from this policy. As a legislature, we must live true to our ideals and ensure that the allegations made against the Governor are properly and thoroughly investigated. We owe due respect to the women raising these concerns to treat their accusations seriously. And, if their allegations prove credible, the Governor must be held accountable.”

State Senator Jeremy Cooney, (D-56), said “these allegations are troubling and we are continuing to learn more. All accusations of sexual harassment deserve to be taken seriously. I support an immediate and independent investigation.”

State Senate Republican Leader Robert Ortt, whose 62nd district includes part of Monroe County, said "the latest allegations about Governor Cuomo’s conduct are incredibly disturbing. The review suggested by someone handpicked by the Governor himself, is an outrageous, completely unacceptable idea. We need a truly independent investigation, which is why I continue to support the calls of my colleagues for a Special Prosecutor appointed by the Attorney General.

On Sunday, Ortt said that Cuomo, "has repeatedly broken the public’s trust, " and Ortt is calling on Cuomo to resign.