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Governor Cuomo apologizes for statements "misinterpreted as an unwanted flirtation"

Virus Outbreak New York
Posted at 6:53 PM, Feb 28, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-28 23:25:28-05

In a new statement issued Sunday night, Governor Andrew Cuomo apologized for his actions related to sexual harassment allegations.

Below, is the full statement:

"Questions have been raised about some of my past interactions with people in the office.

"I never intended to offend anyone or cause any harm. I spend most of my life at work and colleagues are often also personal friends.

"At work sometimes I think I am being playful and make jokes that I think are funny. I do, on occasion, tease people in what I think is a good natured way. I do it in public and in private. You have seen me do it at briefings hundreds of times. I have teased people about their personal lives, their relationships, about getting married or not getting married. I mean no offense and only attempt to add some levity and banter to what is a very serious business.

"I now understand that my interactions may have been insensitive or too personal and that some of my comments, given my position, made others feel in ways I never intended. I acknowledge some of the things I have said have been misinterpreted as an unwanted flirtation. To the extent anyone felt that way, I am truly sorry about that.

"To be clear I never inappropriately touched anybody and I never propositioned anybody and I never intended to make anyone feel uncomfortable, but these are allegations that New Yorkers deserve answers to.

"That's why I have asked for an outside, independent review that looks at these allegations.

"Separately, my office has heard anecdotally that some people have reached out to Ms. Bennett to express displeasure about her coming forward. My message to anyone doing that is you have misjudged what matters to me and my administration and you should stop now - period."

The governor also granted New York Attorney General Leticia James the power to select a private attorney in the coming days to conduct an independent investigation.

"The Governor's office wants a thorough and independent review that is above reproach and beyond political interference. Therefore, the Governor's office has asked Attorney General Tish James to select a qualified private lawyer to do an independent review of allegations of sexual harassment. The independent lawyer will be legally designated as a Special Independent Deputy Attorney General and granted all powers provided under Section 63(8) of the Executive Law. As necessary, other lawyers from the appointed lawyer's firm shall be similarly designated to assist in the review. The lawyer shall report publicly their findings. The Governor's office will voluntarily cooperate fully," Special Counsel and Cuomo Senior Advisor Beth Garvey said in a statement.

"We expect to receive a 63(8) referral with subpoena power to investigate allegations of sexual harassment against the governor, in line with our demands and New York state law. The referral would be made solely to the attorney general's office. This is not a responsibility we take lightly. We will hire a law firm, deputize them as attorneys of our office, and oversee a rigorous and independent investigation," James said in a statement.

After learning of this second sexual harassment allegation, several WNY lawmakers have called for an independent investigation into the claims.