WSKG – Wednesday marks a year since Andrew Cuomo, embroiled in a sexual harassment scandal, announced that he would resign as governor of New York state. His successor is now leading in the polls for election, and Cuomo is absent from the political scene, although not completely forgotten.
On Aug. 3, 2021, State Attorney General Tish James released her report that investigated allegations that Cuomo sexually harassed multiple women. He also was accused of assaulting one woman.
James tersely announced the results of the probe, conducted by an experienced prosecutor and employment attorney.
“The independent investigation has concluded that Gov. Andrew Cuomo sexually harassed multiple women,” James said. “And in doing so, violated federal and state law.”
In the days that followed, the state Assembly’s impeachment committee met. They decided to take steps toward articles of impeachment and a trial in the State Senate.
“The governor has clearly lost the confidence of the majority (Democratic) members of the New York State Assembly,” Speaker Carl Heastie said on Aug. 9, 2021.
The Assembly was also examining whether Cuomo violated ethics rules when he used staff to help him write and edit a memoir that was to earn him $5 million. And they were looking at the administration’s policies on nursing homes during the height of the pandemic, and whether the decision to send back patients who had COVID-19 from hospitals to nursing homes led to thousands of deaths.
Cuomo called James’ report “false” and said that his conduct toward the women was misconstrued, though he admitted his behavior may have been “dated” and inappropriate.
Nevertheless, he announced he was leaving office to avoid months of legal and political controversy.
“The best way I can help now is if I step aside and let government get back to governing,” Cuomo said on Aug. 10, 2021. “And therefore, that’s what I’ll do.”
Two weeks later, then-Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul was sworn in as the state’s 57th chief executive. One day after Cuomo announced his exit, she pledged a new day in the governor’s office.
“At the end of my term, whenever it ends, no one will ever describe my administration as a toxic work environment,” Hochul said on Aug. 11, 2021.
Since then, investigations into alleged wrongdoing by Cuomo have ended with no charges. The Albany County district attorney dropped an investigation by the Albany County Sheriff into sexual assault allegations against Cuomo, and probes by several other district attorneys also ended without charges. The federal justice department dropped a probe into the nursing homes. Litigation continues between Cuomo and the state ethics panel, which sought to claw back the money the former governor was paid for his book deal.
James briefly ran for governor but ended her campaign in favor of seeking a nearly assured reelection as attorney general.
Hochul, who was never part of Cuomo’s inner circle, hit the ground running, dealing with the ongoing pandemic, and recently, two U.S. Supreme Court cases. One reversed the landmark abortion rights case Roe v. Wade, and another threw out New York’s restrictions on carrying concealed weapons.
She is 14 points ahead of her GOP opponent, Long Island Rep. Lee Zeldin, in the polls.
Cuomo hinted he would run for office in the 2022 election cycle, and he gave a couple of speeches. But the deadlines to register to run as a Democrat, and then an independent, came and went with no action from him.
Steve Greenberg, a political analyst and spokesman for Siena College polling, said this November will be only the second time in 44 years that the name Cuomo has not been on a statewide ballot. That stretch began with a successful run for lieutenant governor in 1978 by Mario Cuomo, the father of Andrew Cuomo.
“The Cuomo name and Andrew Cuomo personally have been a force in this state,” Greenberg said. “For decades.”
Greenberg said it’s not the first time that the political world considered Andrew Cuomo’s career as an elected official to be over. Cuomo ran in the Democratic primary for governor in 2002, but dropped out days before voting rather than face a bruising loss to Carl McCall.
But he ran again in 2006, this time for attorney general, and won. He went on to be elected three times as governor.
Greenberg said Cuomo can’t be counted out for a future run for office.
“His campaign treasury still has millions of dollars in it,” said Greenberg. “He is still, a relatively — in the modern world — relatively young man.”
The 64-year-old Cuomo is 15 years younger than President Joe Biden and close to a dozen years younger than former President Donald Trump.
Other former disgraced New York politicians have attempted comebacks. Former Gov. Eliot Spitzer, who resigned in a prostitution scandal, and former Rep. Anthony Weiner, who left office over a sexting scandal, ran for New York City offices in 2013. Both lost.