“He stepped in front of me and kissed me on the lips,” writes Lindsey Boylan, a former top aide to Governor Andrew Cuomo. And with that, Cuomo’s very bad week got even worse.
Boylan’s allegations of sexual harassment are not new. She made them in Twitter postings last December. Cuomo denied them, and because Cuomo is a liberal Democrat who supports abortion, he was given a pass by the media and the #metoo movement.
The sharks were already smelling blood in the water following revelations about a coverup of the number of COVID nursing home deaths and a screaming tirade against a Democratic assemblyman. The sexual harassment claim appears to have opened the floodgates of opposition.
“Let’s play strip poker.”
I should have been shocked by the Governor’s crude comment, but I wasn’t.
We were flying home from an October 2017 event in Western New York on his taxpayer-funded jet. He was seated facing me, so close our knees almost touched. His press aide was to my right and a state trooper behind us.
“That’s exactly what I was thinking,” I responded sarcastically and awkwardly. I tried to play it cool. But in that moment, I realized just how acquiescent I had become.
“Governor Andrew Cuomo has created a culture within his administration where sexual harassment and bullying is so pervasive that it is not only condoned but expected. His inappropriate behavior toward women was an affirmation that he liked you, that you must be doing something right,” Boylan wrote. “He used intimidation to silence his critics. And if you dared to speak up, you would face consequences.”
Other women on Cuomo’s staff ganged up on Boylan to protect their boss — even though several of them knew full well about the governor’s sexist behavior.
Last week, Assemblymember Ron Kim spoke out publicly about the intimidation and abuse he has faced from Governor Cuomo and his aides. As Mayor de Blasio remarked, “the bullying is nothing new.” There are many more of us, but most are too afraid to speak up.
I’m compelled to tell my story because no woman should feel forced to hide their experiences of workplace intimidation, harassment and humiliation — not by the Governor or anyone else.
I expect the Governor and his top aides will attempt to further disparage me, just as they’ve done with Assemblymember Kim. They’d lose their jobs if they didn’t protect him. That’s how his administration works. I know because I was a part of it.
On September 26, 2018, I sent a mass email informing staff members of my resignation.
There is a part of me that will never forgive myself for being a victim for so long, for trying to ignore behavior that I knew was wrong. The Governor exploited my weaknesses, my desire to do good work and to be respected. I was made to believe this was the world I needed to survive in.
It was all so normalized — particularly by Melissa DeRosa and other top women around him — that only now do I realize how insidious his abuse was.
The question now is how the media and the #metoo movement deals with Cuomo. Even the media can’t resist a story with sex and power and will likely dig in with relish, flaying the governor’s hypocrisy.
But what of Cuomo’s female enablers? Why won’t they be canceled? That they won’t proves that the #metoo movement is just another partisan arm of the Democratic Party that really doesn’t care about the well-being of women in the workplace. If they did, they would go after Cuomo’s female aides as hard as any Republican or corporate sexist — perhaps harder, given their betrayal of their sisters.
When Boylan’s allegations first surfaced in December, the celebrities who could be counted on to immediately bash any male accused of harassment were silent. We on the right are used to this. It’s part of the game. But if these women crusaders really wanted things to change, politics shouldn’t matter.
That it does should disappoint women who have suffered sexual harassment in the workplace and now know there is no one to fight for their cause.