Fact Check: Did Cuomo Call For Lawmaker to Resign Amid Sexual Harassment Claims?

Amid calls for impeachment over his handling of the COVID-19 nursing home scandal, Governor Andrew Cuomo (D-N.Y.) is facing calls to resign after accusations of sexual harassment.

Two former staffers, Charlotte Bennett and Lindsey Boylan, shared experiences with the governor's alleged "pervasive harassment." This includes unflattering comments about the weight of female colleagues, inappropriate questions about romantic and sexual relationships, and nonconsensual physical advances, according to Newsweek.

On Monday, a third woman, Anna Ruch, accused Cuomo of unwanted advances at a wedding. According to Newsweek, Ruch said Cuomo put his hand on her lower back and put his hands on her cheeks and asked her to kiss him.

I fully support initiating impeachment proceedings. We should use every appropriate mechanism that we can to ensure that Governor Cuomo is investigated and is actually held accountable. pic.twitter.com/Vg58I5tnTz

— Julia Salazar (@JuliaCarmel__) March 2, 2021

The Claim

Despite calls from lawmakers to resign, Cuomo said Wednesday that he has no plans to step down.

Some critics have called out Cuomo for alleged hypocrisy. Congresswoman Nicole Malliotakis (R-N.Y.) tweeted a quote from Cuomo allegedly calling for former New York Assemblyman Vito Lopez to resign amid sexual harassment accusations.

#ThrowbackThursday Gov. Andrew Cuomo said this about Assemblyman Vito Lopez in 2013: pic.twitter.com/VIIRLwCKG0

— Nicole Malliotakis (@NMalliotakis) February 25, 2021

The Facts

During the press conference Wednesday, Cuomo said he "never knew at the time that I was making anybody uncomfortable."

"I now understand that I acted in a way that made people feel uncomfortable," Cuomo said. "It was unintentional, and I truly, and deeply, apologize for it. I feel awful about it, and frankly, I am embarrassed by it."

"This is what I want you to know, and I want you to know this from me directly: I never touched anyone inappropriately," he added.

Cuomo said that he will "fully cooperate" with New York Attorney General Letitia James' investigation into these allegations.

In August 2012, Lopez, a leader of the Democratic party in Brooklyn, was censured and stripped of Assembly Housing Committee chairmanship after allegations of sexual harassment arose. Lopez was accused of verbally harassing, groping and kissing two staff members. Lopez denied the allegations.

The New York Times also reported that Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver had quietly settled at least one other sexual harassment accusation against Lopez that year. The report said that complaint was not reported to the Assembly Ethics Committee.

At the time, Cuomo issued several statements calling for Lopez to resign.

"Sexual harassment at the workplace cannot be tolerated in any shape or form," Cuomo's spokesman, Josh Vlasto, said in an August 2012 statement. "These are serious allegations and if true, the governor believes he should resign."

When Lopez did not announce an immediate resignation, Cuomo doubled down, calling for the Assembly to expel Lopez if he did not step down right away.

"As I said yesterday, there should be a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to sexual harassment and we must now send a clear message that this behavior is not tolerated," Cuomo said in a statement in May 2013. "Vito Lopez should not spend another day in office, let alone a whole month. He should resign effective immediately and if he does not, he must be expelled."

Lopez, who initially said he would resign at the end of his term in June, later said he was resigning immediately in May.

A spokeswoman for Cuomo called Lopez's decision to resign immediately "the best end to this ugly chapter."

"As the governor said, one month was unacceptable, as was one more day," the spokeswoman, Melissa DeRosa, said at the time. "Now we must do everything we can to ensure this type of behavior is never tolerated or allowed to occur again."

The claims were settled in 2015, months before Lopez died of cancer.

Cuomo issued a similar statement around that time to Assembly members Micha Kellner and Dennis Gabryszak after they faced sexual harassment accusations.

In a statement on December 31, 2013, Cuomo said Kellner's conduct, confirmed by the Assembly Ethics and Guidance Committee's investigation "has no place in New York State government" and said Kellner and Gabryszak "must immediately deny the allegations or resign."

"This pattern of behavior is repugnant by every standard and directly contradicts the policies the Assembly has advanced for the last 20 years," Cuomo said. "If they do not resign, the Assembly must send a clear message that they do not tolerate this abuse of women and should seriously consider moving to expel them if they seek to return this coming session."

Kellner denied the allegations and said in a statement he did not accept the Ethics Committee's findings. He was stripped of his committee chairmanship, forbidden from holding leadership positions in the future, and barred from having interns. Kellner did not seek re-election in 2014 and lost his appeal on the Ethics Committee sanctions in 2015.

Gabryszak resigned in January 2014 after seven former staffers accused him of harassment. Three of those cases were dismissed and one was settled in 2019.

Newsweek reached out to Cuomo's office for comment.

The Ruling


Cuomo and his spokespeople made statements in 2012 and 2013 calling for the immediate resignation of Lopez following the sexual harassment allegations against him.

He also made similar statements to other Assembly members with similar accusations.

Cuomo Resign
A new poll released Tuesday found New York Governor Andrew Cuomo's approval rating to be only 38 percent amid a number of scandals. Demonstrators call on Cuomo to resign at a rally on March 2, 2021, in New York City. Calls for Cuomo's impeachment or resignation have escalated in the wake of multiple women coming forward to accuse the governor of sexual harassment. Scott Heins/Getty Images