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Elected leaders respond to Cuomo investigation, many call for resignation

Gov. Andrew Cuomo
Posted at 3:40 PM, Aug 03, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-03 17:55:02-04

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — New York Attorney General Letitia James announced Tuesday the independent investigation into sexual harassment allegations against New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, led by Joon H. Kim and Anne L. Clark, found Cuomo sexually harassed multiple women and violated state and federal laws.

New York Attorney General Letitia James announcing report.

Tuesday afternoon Cuomo responded to the independent investigation and denied its findings.

Elected leaders across the state have responded to the findings of the investigation, many calling for Cuomo's resignation.

You can find their responses below.

Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul

Sexual harassment is unacceptable in any workplace, and certainly not in public service. The Attorney General’s investigation has documented repulsive and unlawful behavior by the Governor towards multiple women. I believe these brave women and admire their courage coming forward.

No one is above the law. Under the New York Constitution, the Assembly will now determine the next steps.

Because Lieutenant Governors stand next in the line of succession, it would not be appropriate to comment further on the process at this moment.
- Lt. Gov. Hochul (D)

City of Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown

The NYS Attorney General’s report on allegations of sexual harassment and misconduct by Governor Cuomo is deeply troubling. Any act of harassment or intimidation - whether in the workplace or elsewhere - is unacceptable. The bravery of the women who came forward highlights the fact that sexual harassment continues to permeate the workplace and for many, diminishes the dignity, honor and joy of public service.

For the good of our state, I urge Governor Cuomo to do the right thing and resign.
- Mayor Byron Brown (D)

Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz

From the beginning, when accusations of sexual harassment against Governor Cuomo first surfaced, I called for an independent investigation to be conducted by the Attorney General’s Office and recommended waiting until the completion of that investigation before offering any comment on the merit of the claims.

The investigation into these accusations has concluded with a report, announced today by NYS Attorney General James, that not only confirmed many of the previous allegations but also identified others that had not been known and were corroborated by witnesses. Sexual harassment in any form can never be tolerated. Based on the thorough, detailed nature of the report and the corroborated findings of sexual harassment and a toxic work environment presented therein, Governor Cuomo must resign.
- Erie County Executive Poloncarz (D)

Senator Sean Ryan

The report from the Attorney General's office outlines a pattern of disturbing behavior, including serious impropriety by the Governor and attempts by his office to silence accusers. I commend the women in the report for coming forward to tell all of us about what they had to endure. The report makes clear that the Governor is not fit for the office he holds, and he should step down immediately and allow Lieutenant Governor Hochul to assume the powers of the Office of Governor. If he refuses to do so, it is incumbent upon the Assembly and Senate to remove him from office. I thank the Attorney General and the independent investigators for their deliberate work to uncover the truth.
- Sen. Ryan (D - 60th District)

Senator Tim Kennedy

The growing number of allegations of assault, harassment, and inappropriate behavior by the Governor are disturbing. I commend the women who have come forward for their courage. They deserve justice, which begins with a thorough investigation. I strongly support the ongoing investigation led by Attorney General James, the investigation led by the Assembly Judiciary Committee, and the inquiries by relevant District Attorney offices, however I personally believe these allegations have made it impossible for the Governor to effectively serve the people of New York, and I believe he should resign.
- Sen. Kennedy (D - 63rd District)
NYS Senator Tim Kennedy reacts to report.

While appearing at an event in Buffalo Tuesday, Kennedy responded to reporters asking for his reaction.

“It’s is a sad day in the State of New York that the governor abused his power now proven by the attorney general in a 168 page report,” Kennedy replied. “The governor should do what's right by the people of the State of New York and he should resign his office."

Assemblymember Jonathan D. Rivera

I applaud New York Attorney General Letitia James for her office’s commitment and persistence in delivering the findings within the 165-page report released today. They are as comprehensive as they are damning.

The investigation, which unveiled that the governor sexually harassed at least 11 women, is a stark reminder of our obligation to protect women in the workplace and to dismantle the toxic work cultures that facilitate this sort of pervasive harassment. The women who came forward demonstrated a courageousness that deserves to be both recognized and admired, as they showed a profound resiliency even when the governor used his position of power to react in a retaliatory way to those who spoke out.

I urge Gov. Cuomo to protect the sanctity of his office by immediately issuing his resignation. Given the nature of today’s report, I am also prepared to vote “Yes” on any impeachment proceeding.
- Assemblymember Rivera (D - 149th District)

Assemblymember Steve Hawley

What we heard today should sicken everyone at a human level, and we cannot allow the governor to continue as our executive knowing our worst fears about his actions are true. He must resign now, and if not, we must reject his leadership resoundingly to send a message that conduct of this nature will never be acceptable, by anyone. He has abused his power in the most horrific of ways, and the time has now come for the legislative branch to assert itself and do what is right in this critical moment.
- Assemblymember Hawley (R - 139th District)

Erie County Legislator Kevin Hardwick

Today, after reading the report released by the New York State Attorney General’s Office, it is my firm belief that there is no option except for Governor Andrew Cuomo to resign immediately.

If the Governor refuses to resign, the Assembly should immediately begin impeachment proceedings.
- Erie County Legislator Hardwick (D)

Joint statement from Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY)

As we have said before, the reported actions of the Governor were profoundly disturbing, inappropriate and completely unacceptable. Today’s report from the New York State Attorney General substantiated and corroborated the allegations of the brave women who came forward to share their stories -- and we commend the women for doing so.

The New York State Attorney General has conducted an independent, thorough and professional investigation that found the Governor violated state and federal law, had a pattern of sexually harassing current and former employees, retaliated against at least one of the accusers and created a hostile work environment.

No elected official is above the law. The people of New York deserve better leadership in the governor’s office. We continue to believe that the Governor should resign.
- Joint statement from Sen. Schumer (D-NY) and Sen. Gillibrand (D-NY)
U.S. Congressman Brian Higgins.

U.S. Congressman Brian Higgins also calling for Cuomo's resignation. Higgins responded to reporter questions while appearing in Buffalo Tuesday.

“If the reports conclusions confirm the allegations, whether its a violation of state or federal law, the appropriate law enforcement agencies should be involved and the appropriate actions should be taken,” Higgins stated.

Assemblymember Monica P. Wallace

The Attorney General’s report paints a deeply disturbing picture of toxic and illegal behavior by the Governor. Given the gravity of the allegations, I reiterate my call for the Governor to immediately step down. Our state constitution allows the lieutenant governor to step in and assume the duties of governor. We are fortunate to have a lieutenant governor who is an attorney with experience at every level of government – town, county, state and federal. She is more than capable of jumping in and taking the reins while the Assembly works to conclude its own investigation, especially in light of the disturbing findings issued today. I will be urging my colleagues to wrap up our work as soon as possible.
- Assemblymember Wallace (D - 143rd District)

Senator Patrick Gallivan

The report issued by the New York State Attorney General regarding sexual harassment and misconduct allegations against the Governor is deeply disturbing. The findings of her four-month investigation indicate the governor not only broke multiple laws and fostered a hostile work environment; he violated his oath of office and is no longer fit to govern effectively. His only appropriate course of action is to resign.

If he does not, the Legislature should use this report as its basis to immediately commence impeachment proceedings as outlined in the State Constitution.
- Sen. Patrick Gallivan (R - 59th District)

Congressman Chris Jacobs

Andrew Cuomo has irreparably disgraced his office, broken numerous laws, and intimidated at least one brave employee who came forward and reported his consistent abuse. He cannot serve as Governor of New York any longer, he must resign immediately and face justice for his crimes.
- Congressman Jacobs (R - 27th District)

Senator Anna Kaplan

As I stated previously, the results of the Attorney General’s investigation should dictate whether or not the Governor continues to serve in a position of honor as the leader of the Empire State, and the stunning conclusions of the investigation, that the Governor engaged in a pattern of unlawful, sex-based harassment, leaves absolutely no room for the Governor to continue to lead our State. The Governor must resign immediately, and if he does not, the legislature must aggressively pursue impeachment.

The experiences of the women detailed in the Attorney General’s report are nothing short of heartbreaking, and I commend each and every one of them for summoning the strength to speak truth to power, even in the face of documented retaliation for doing so. I believe them, I’m grateful for their courage, and they deserve justice.
- Sen. Kaplan (D - 7th District)

Assemblymember Angelo Morinello

What we have surmised for months has unfortunately been confirmed. The findings in the attorney general’s report are deeply disturbing and troubling. They detail systemic abuse and misconduct in the Executive Chamber. That the governor has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing for months underscores a longtime pattern of dishonesty from this administration.

No woman or man should ever feel unsafe or in fear for their mental or physical health at their place of work. I pray for the victims and I commend their unwavering bravery and pursuit of justice. The governor must step down immediately. It is impossible for him to focus on running the state while trying to protect and repair his reputation. If he won’t, the Assembly must push forward with impeachment and remove him ourselves.
- Assemblymember Morinello (R - 145th District)
Assemblyman Angelo Morinello in Zoom.

Assemblyman Morniello says Cuomo must step down during a Zoom interview with 7 Eyewitness News.

“I’m offended that he didn't stand up and just take homage and omission of his actions,” Morinello

New York State Comptroller Thomas Dinapoli

This is a sad day for New York. The Attorney General's report documents unacceptable workplace behavior in the Executive Chamber at the highest level of state leadership. The women who came forward are courageous, and they have been heard. As I stated months ago, the Governor should step down.
- Comptroller Dinapoli (D)

Erie County Democratic Chairman Jeremy Zellner

From the beginning, I have insisted that we await the end of the official investigation into Gov. Cuomo’s actions and act on the basis of the facts.

Today, Attorney General James announced the end of that investigation and released those facts.

She and her staff outlined a clear and deeply disturbing pattern of unlawful and inexcusable behavior.

These findings transcend all political considerations. I was critical of Republicans when they ignored the truth in order to protect President Trump, and I will not hold myself to a different standard.

I believe it is time for Gov. Cuomo to put the people of New York and integrity of his office ahead of his own interests.

He should resign and allow the work of state government to move forward unburdened by the controversies that would inevitably follow him for the remainder of his term.

I join AG James in her praise and support for all those who came forward to share their experiences in the service of justice and to speak truth to power.

And I thank our Attorney General for her great leadership, integrity, and professionalism in this matter.
- ECDC Chairman Zellner

Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins

This report highlights​ unacceptable behavior by Governor Cuomo and his administration. As I said, when these disturbing allegations first came to light, the Governor must resign for the good of the state. Now that the investigation is complete and the allegations have been substantiated, it should be clear to everyone that he can no longer serve as Governor. Our highest elected offices must reflect the values and integrity that​ they profess and​ New Yorkers hold dear. I thank the Attorney General and her investigators for their thorough investigation.​ I also wanted to give a special thank you to the courageous women who bravely stepped forward to shed light on this awful situation. We all owe them a debt of gratitude.
- Sen. Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins (D)

Senator George Borello

Today’s report by the New York State Attorney General is confirmation that Governor Cuomo is guilty of sexual harassment. The details in that report are even more disturbing than we could have imagined. The courageous young women who put their careers and reputations on the line in telling their stories are vindicated and have done an important service to our state and to women everywhere.

Now that the Attorney General has conducted the due diligence that the Governor himself asked for, he needs to resign immediately. If he refuses, the Democrat-led majorities in the Senate and Assembly must demonstrate the leadership this moment demands and begin impeachment proceedings.
- Sen. Borello (R - 57th District)

Assembly Minority Leader Will Barclay

As Attorney General Letitia James’ office’s investigation has confirmed, Andrew Cuomo’s behavior is abhorrent and absolutely unacceptable. I called for Gov. Cuomo to resign in March, and it is clear now, based on the information presented to the attorney general’s office and corroborated by independent counsel, Andrew Cuomo is unfit to serve in his current capacity.

It is in the best interest of the people of New York state for Gov. Cuomo to immediately resign and if he refuses to do so, the Legislature should take the necessary and immediate steps to have him impeached and forcibly removed from office.

The women who came forward and bravely shared their experiences must be acknowledged and commended. Only through their incredible courage have we been able to arrive at the truth.
- Assembly Minority Leader Barclay (R)

Senate Republican Leader Rob Ortt

Today is a sad and sobering day for all New Yorkers. The Attorney General’s findings confirm and reinforce the allegations brought by the brave women who came forward against a powerful figure — that Andrew Cuomo is a serial harasser, unfit to hold public office. In the wake of another devastating report, now more than ever Andrew Cuomo must resign. If he fails to do so, the legislature must immediately reconvene to take action to remove him.

New Yorkers have already been subjected to far too many lies, scandals and misdeeds perpetrated by this Governor and his associates. It is time to bring this sad, tawdry and corrupt chapter in New York’s history to a close, and to restore decency, honesty, and accountability to our state’s highest office. New York is facing profound challenges, ranging from a wave of violence in our streets, to a badly battered economy. To effectively address these challenges, we need a change in leadership as quickly as possible.

I must also commend the Attorney General and her team for refusing to be intimidated by this Governor. From the very beginning, Andrew Cuomo and his associates attempted to bully, undercut, and undermine the Attorney General — all as part of an effort to prevent her from doing her job. From attempting to block the initial referral to the Attorney General’s office, to the intimidation of potential witnesses, to the blatant attempts to smear her integrity and motivations, this Governor left no stone unturned in his efforts to prevent the truth from being discovered.

While this will undoubtedly go down as a dark day in New York’s history, we must now take steps to ensure that it will also be remembered as an important turning point that restores accountability and trustworthiness to state government.
- Sen. Republican Leader Ortt (R)

State Senate Republican leader Rob Ortt met with reporters in Albany after Cuomo denied the charges Tuesday afternoon, just hours after the report was released.

State Senator Rob Ortt.

“There is no CEO in New York State or for that matter, I believe in America — that would still be the CEO if a report like this came out,” Ortt remarked. Ortt calls the attorney general's investigation “sobering” and a “tough report” confirming the governor created a toxic and hostile work environment. He is calling on assembly democrats to move forward with impeachment proceedings.

“Our conference stands ready to comeback immediately to deal with this,” declared Ortt

Speaker of the New York State Assembly Carl Heastie

We have received the Attorney General's 168 page report containing findings of sexual harassment and misconduct committed by Governor Cuomo. The findings contained in the report are disturbing. The details provided by the victims are gut-wrenching. Our hearts go out to all the individuals who have had to endure this horrible experience. The conduct by the Governor outlined in this report would indicate someone who is not fit for office.

The report has been forwarded to the members of the Judiciary Committee as well as all members of the Assembly. We will now undertake an in-depth examination of the report and its corresponding exhibits with our Assembly counsels as well the legal firm we have retained to assist us.

We will have more to say in the very near future.
- Speaker Heastie (D)

Heastie then released the following statement later Tuesday:

After our conference this afternoon to discuss the Attorney General's report concerning sexual harassment allegations against Governor Cuomo, 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.

Once we receive all relevant documents and evidence from the Attorney General, we will move expeditiously and look to conclude our impeachment investigation as quickly as possible.
- Speaker Heastie

Assemblymember Mike Lawler

It was clear months ago that Andrew Cuomo was no longer fit to lead our state. Today, it became emphatically clear that he must not be allowed to lead our state another day, after breaking multiple federal and state laws.

If Governor Cuomo won't step down today, then he must be impeached immediately.

Speaker Heastie must immediately call us back for a special session to impeach this lawless and predatory Governor.
- Assemblymember Lawler (R - 97th District)

Assemblymember Bill Conrad

State Attorney General Letitia James’ investigation into the Governor’s sexual harassment of women was thorough and definitive, and the findings of that investigation are frankly repugnant.

I applaud AG James and her team for their exemplary work to lay bare the full and appalling truth: That Gov. Cuomo routinely humiliated and objectified the women he worked with and among. He then used the power of his office to intimidate and silence his victims.

The Governor is unfit for office. If he won’t immediately resign, the Assembly must take the next logical steps, toward his impeachment.

Finally, I express my respect and admiration for the women who, under grave threat to their personal and professional well-being, came forward with their stories and cooperated with AG James’ investigation. Their courage and resilience are nothing short of astonishing.”
Assemblymember Conrad (D - 140th District)