A former aide to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo on Wednesday accused the governor of kissing her without her consent while she served as assistant secretary for economic development in 2018.
Lindsey Boylan, now a candidate for President of the Manhattan borough, published a detailed report on her allegations against her former boss in a blog post. Boylan released her harassment allegations against the governor in December, though she did not go into details at the time.
Cuomo spokeswoman Caitlin Girouard said in a statement: "Ms. Boylan's allegations of inappropriate behavior are simply false."
In the same press release from Cuomo's office, four other employees disputed a single detail of Boylan's report. Boylan wrote that Cuomo said to her on a plane at a Western New York event in 2017 with the governor, press secretary, and state trooper, "Let's play strip poker." Cuomo's office released a record of all flights as of October 2017 and said, "There hasn't been a flight where Lindsey was alone with the governor, a single press officer, and an NYS soldier."
The record shows that Boylan was on multiple flights with the governor and other staff. Boylan didn't claim in her blog post that she was alone on the flight with the governor, a press secretary, and a state trooper. But the four Cuomo employees said in a statement included in the press release: "We were on each of those October flights and that conversation didn't take place."
The new details emerged when Cuomo cracked down on allegations of mistreating data and policies for nursing homes at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic in New York last year.
The U.S. Department of Justice has opened a criminal investigation into nursing home deaths related to coronavirus in the state. New York attorney general Letitia James, Cuomo's Democratic colleague, released a report last month in which she said the state had reported Covid-19 deaths in nursing homes of up to 50%.
Cuomo's behavior towards colleagues was re-examined after New York MP Ron Kim accused the governor of swearing to "destroy" him after Kim criticized Cuomo's handling of outbreaks in nursing homes. Cuomo's senior advisor denied that Kim's claim was true.
In her blog post on Wednesday, Boylan referred to Kim's allegations and expanded them herself, including screenshots of emails from her time as governor.
Lindsey Boylan attends the 9th Annual Elly Awards held by the New York Women's Forum on June 17, 2019 in New York City.
Mike Coppola | Getty Images
Boylan said after first meeting the governor in 2016, her boss said Cuomo had a crush on her. She said she later complained to friends that he would "go out of his way to touch my lower back, arms and legs".
She also alleged that Cuomo "made unflattering comments about the weight of female colleagues" and "mocked them at their romantic relationships and significant others".
"I tried to apologize for his behavior," wrote Boylan. "I told myself it was just words." However, this changed after a face-to-face interview with the governor to keep him updated on economic and infrastructure projects. We were in his New York office on Third Avenue. When I got up to go to an open door, he stepped in front of me and kissed my lips. I was shocked, but I kept walking. "
Writing that she feared a staff member saw the kiss, Boylan wrote, "The idea that someone might think I held my senior position because the governor had a crush on me was more humiliating than the kiss itself."
Boylan said she announced her resignation in September 2018.
She also shared a screenshot of a 2016 email that appeared to be from Stephanie Benton, the governor's office director. Cuomo suggested that Boylan look up pictures of his rumored ex-girlfriend because, "You could be sisters. Unless you're the better-looking sister."
Boylan accused high-ranking women in Cuomo's office of creating a culture that "normalized" their boss's behavior and called top consultant Melissa DeRosa by name. She said two other women informed her of their own experiences with the governor after posting her original allegations online in December.
"One described living in constant fear and fear of what would happen to her if she refused the governor's advances," Boylan wrote. "The other said she was instructed by the governor to warn employees who angered him that their work could be at risk. They both told me they were too afraid to speak up."
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