Mayor Bill de Blasio on Sunday called for the revocation of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s emergency authority over local governments following a second “disturbing” allegation of sexual harassment lodged by a one-time staffer.
Hizzoner’s blistering statement cited not only the sexual harassment claims now leveled against Cuomo by two women — including former aide Charlotte Bennett, who spoke out Saturday — but also efforts by Cuomo’s administration to cover up the extent of coronavirus deaths in nursing homes, as first reported by The Post.
“New Yorkers have seen detailed, documented accounts of sexual harassment, multiple instances of intimidation, and the admitted withholding of information on the deaths of over 15,000 people,” said de Blasio. “Questions of this magnitude cannot hang over the heads of New Yorkers as we fight off a pandemic and economic crisis. It’s clear what must now take place.
“The State legislature must immediately revoke the Governor’s emergency powers that overrule local control.”
Cuomo has wielded the sweeping powers since the early days of the pandemic, but in recent weeks faced questions about whether it was appropriate that he continue to do so given the serious allegations against him.
De Blasio additionally called for truly independent probes of all allegations against the governor, with whom he has frequently traded barbs for years.
“Two fully independent investigations must be held immediately into the deaths at nursing homes and the disturbing personal misconduct allegations,” the mayor said. “Precedence shows that investigations of the Governor must be completely independent of his office.
“The investigation into nursing home deaths must be free to examine campaign contributions from the nursing home industry,” he continued. “And the investigation into sexual misconduct must be led by someone fully independent of the governor, not the former business partner of the Governor’s top advisor.”
After Bennett, a 25-year-old former aide to the governor, alleged to the New York Times that her ex-boss, 63, made a series of inappropriate comments that left her convinced he “wanted to sleep with” her, Cuomo’s office announced that former federal Judge Barbara Jones to investigate the accusation.
But Jones’ appointment drew swift bipartisan criticism, as it was revealed she left the bench in 2013 to work at a high-powered New York law office alongside Steve Cohen, a former top aide to Cuomo.
Cohen came to Cuomo’s defense over the nursing home scandal last week — a turbulent week that also saw another former Cuomo administration staffer, Lindsey Boylan, publish a Medium piece detailing previous sexual harassment allegations against the governor, including that he kissed her on the lips without warning.
Cuomo has denied both sexual harassment allegations, and adamantly defended his administration’s work to stem the coronavirus in nursing homes.