New York Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo released a statement on Sunday afternoon apologizing for his behavior after two women came forward and claimed that he sexually harassed them while they worked in his administration.
The statement from Cuomo comes after “Lindsey Boylan, a candidate for Manhattan borough president who formerly worked for Cuomo and the state’s economic development agency, revealed in a blog post on Wednesday that the governor had kissed her without her consent and asked her to play strip poker,” Politico reported. “Then, on Saturday, The New York Times reported that Charlotte Bennett, a former executive assistant and health policy adviser to Cuomo, was also sexually harassed by the governor, including inappropriate questions about her sex life.”
“Questions have been raised about some of my past interactions with people in the office,” the statement began. “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,” Cuomo continued. “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,” the statement concluded. “That’s why I have asked for an outside, independent review that looks at these allegations. Separately, my office has heard anecdotally that some people have reached out to Ms. Bennett to express displeasure about her coming forward. My message to anyone doing that is you have misjudged what matters to me and my administration and you should stop now – period.”
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki discussed the issue on CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday and suggested that Biden believed the essence of the claims that were being made.
“Charlotte should be treated with respect and dignity. So should Lindsey,” Psaki said. “And there should be an independent review looking into these allegations. And that’s certainly something [Biden] supports and we believe should move forward as quickly as possible.”
This report has been updated to include additional information.