VESTAL, NY (WSKG) — More New York lawmakers are calling on Andrew Cuomo to resign following the release of Attorney General Letitia James’ independent investigation into sexual harassment allegations against the governor on Tuesday.
While a majority of lawmakers representing the Southern Tier and Finger Lakes had already called for Cuomo’s resignation over the last few months, the release of the 165-page report convinced remaining holdouts.
Binghamton-area Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo (D-123) had previously supported investigations into the governor, but did not call for his resignation until the report was delivered.
“The behavior that’s described in this report is egregious,” Lupardo told WSKG Tuesday. “And my position now after having seen it is that I don’t think the governor can effectively serve and I think he should resign.”
The attorney general’s investigation into Cuomo concluded he violated multiple state and federal laws by sexually harassing multiple women, including current and former staffers, and fostered a toxic and hostile work environment.
Cuomo responded to the report two hours after James’ announcement in a taped video. He continued to deny the allegations and made no indication that he would consider resigning in the near future, leaving impeachment as the only avenue for opponents to remove him from office.
Assembly Democrats huddled in a closed conference an hour after Cuomo’s response to discuss how to proceed with impeachment.
Lupardo chairs the Assembly agriculture committee and was one of the principle cosponsors of major legislation legalizing recreational marijuana, passed in the wake of Cuomo’s scandals coming to light. She said she would like to see the Assembly move forward with impeachment immediately, but deferred to the advice of the judiciary committee.
Ithaca Assemblymember Anna Kelles (D-125) called for Cuomo’s resignation in February and she said Tuesday that the attorney general’s report further supported that view.
Even if he does resign, Kelles said the Assembly can still proceed with impeachment, but regardless the proceedings should be done quickly and effectively.
“We need to do a thorough investigation. We don’t want to be sloppy. We should be as expeditious as we possibly can,” Kelles told WSKG. “Thoroughness cannot be disregarded for expeditiousness. We should be both expeditious and thorough. The state deserves that. The people of New York deserve that.”
In a press release following Democrats’ conference, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie indicated they would gather the evidence from the Attorney General and complete their investigation as quickly as possible.
“It is abundantly clear to me that the Governor has lost the confidence of the Assembly Democratic majority and that he can no longer remain in office,” Heastie wrote.
Most Republican lawmakers in the state legislature had already called for Cuomo’s resignation and many reiterated those positions Tuesday.
“He and his inner circle, who have been complicit in Cuomo’s lies and covering up his unlawful behavior, need to be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law,” Finger Lakes and Southern Tier Senator Tom O’Mara (R-58) wrote in a press release. “As Governor Cuomo continues desperately trying to remain in office, he clearly is living in an alternate universe fabricated upon his sociopathic lying that only he believes to be reality.”
Sen. Fred Akshar (R-52) and Assemblyman Chris Friend (R-124) also issued releases reiterating their calls for Cuomo to leave office.
The Assembly’s impeachment investigation extends beyond the sexual harassment allegations. It also includes potential ethics violations surrounding staffers working on the governor’s recent book deal, coverup of nursing home COVID-19 death figures and rushed construction on the Mario Cuomo Bridge.