On Aug. 4, Marist Poll published results of a survey done on how the people of New York currently perceive their Democrat Gov. Andrew Cuomo. He is embroiled in multiple sexual harassment allegations. Fifty nine percent of New Yorkers want Cuomo to resign. If he does not resign, 59 percent want the State Legislature to impeach him. Just 32 percent want him to serve out the rest of the term.
Forty four percent of New York citizens believe Cuomo did something illegal; 29 percent think he did something unethical but not illegal. Cuomo’s political future looks bleak; only 12 percent of the respondents say that he deserves to be reelected. In a February poll, three times that (36 percent) had supported his reelection.
Irrespective of political affiliations, the respondents uniformly wanted the governor out of office. Fifty two percent of registered Democrats and 77 percent of Republicans called for Cuomo’s resignation. Forty eight percent of Democrats and 80 percent of Republicans want him to be impeached. Just 18 percent of Democrats and 5 percent of Republicans think Cuomo deserves to be reelected.
“Even if he survives this scandal, his reelection prospects are rock bottom with even his Democratic base deserting him,” Dr. Lee M Miringoff, director of the Marist Poll, said in a statement.
Cuomo, who is in his third term, has been accused of committing sexual harassment by 11 women this year. On August 3, New York Attorney General Letitia James released a report detailing the results of the investigation conducted on the issue.
The report concluded that the governor “engaged in conduct constituting sexual harassment under federal and New York State law.” Cuomo was found to have indulged in “unwelcome and non consensual touching, as well as making numerous offensive comments of a suggestive and sexual nature that created a hostile work environment for women.” It found that Cuomo’s harassing behavior was not limited to his own staff but extended to other state employees as well.
A New York Times report published on August 4 interviewed several citizens who expressed their disappointment at Cuomo’s behavior. Rob Lombardi, co-owner of a restaurant, said that he had planned to vote for Cuomo in 2022 but has now changed his mind. “How could I? I’ve got a daughter.”
29-year-old Ana Giron stated that she watched the governor’s televised briefings on the COVID-19 pandemic last year and carried a rather good impression of him. When allegations of sexual misconduct surfaced, she initially had difficulty believing it. High school teacher Alanya Zuniga wants Cuomo to resign.
“I am very disappointed… I was really trying not to prejudge the situation. I really tried to wait and see what happened, because I do feel like he has done so much for New York State in terms of Covid. I was willing to give him more of the benefit of the doubt than I normally would with a public figure called out on his or her behavior,” Zuniga said.
Cuomo response, political reaction
Cuomo has completely dismissed the allegations of sexual harassment as well as the conclusions of Letitia James’ investigative report.
“I want you to know directly from me that I never touched anyone inappropriately or made inappropriate sexual advances… I am 63 years old. I’ve lived my entire adult life in public view. That is just not who I am, and that’s not who I have ever been… The facts are much different than what has been portrayed,” Cuomo said in a statement.
The governor also released an 85-page response to the investigation that contained dozens of photos showing him hugging other people, including Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.
In an interview with CBS, Charlotte Bennett, one of the 11 women who have accused Cuomo of sexual harassment, demanded that the governor resign from the post and urged officials to start impeachment proceedings should he refuse to do so.
“He’s trying to justify himself by making me out to be someone who can’t tell the difference between sexual harassment and mentorship and I think that’s absolutely absurd,” Bennett said.
Many prominent Democrats have called for Cuomo’s resignation as well, including New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. President Joe Biden told reporters that Cuomo “should resign.” New York Republican Senator Patty Ritchie called the Attorney Generals’ investigation report “appalling.”
“This abhorrent behavior is absolutely unacceptable for the top elected office holder in New York State. The independent, in-depth report confirms distributing allegations made by nearly a dozen women and makes it abundantly clear that the Governor must resign,” Ritchie said in a statement.
The New York State Assembly’s Judiciary Committee has sent a letter to Cuomo. It states that their impeachment investigation is “nearing completion” and that the Assembly will soon consider “potential articles of impeachment” against him. Cuomo has been given time until August 13, 5 p.m. to provide “any additional evidence” for the committee to consider before it concludes its work.
The Constitution of New York allows public officers to be impeached for misconduct while in office. The State Assembly would kickstart the process by introducing and then voting on an impeachment resolution. A simple majority would ensure that the resolution is passed.
An impeachment trial would be held by the New York Senate. If two-thirds of the state’s upper chamber and seven judges from New York’s Court of Appeal approve of the impeachment, Cuomo will be convicted or removed from office.