New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and his aides cultivated a “toxic” workplace that enabled him to sexually harass women and created a hostile environment for staffers overall, officials said Tuesday.
The findings were contained in the hotly-anticipated report from state Attorney General Letitia James’ office into the allegations of sexual misconduct against 63-year-old Cuomo.
Witnesses “consistently described a work environment that normalized the Governor’s flirtatious behavior,” the 165-page report states.
Independent investigators detailed how the governor frequently made sexual comments to employees, including once holding up the Emmy statue he won in November 2020 and remarking “Isn’t she buxom?” in a meeting.
One former employee told the investigators that women said Cuomo made them feel like “prey,” as his “gaze would linger on them, seemingly taking in their whole bodies, and then he would hold eye contact with the women for longer than expected.”
The governor once told a male staffer, “you’ll see why we hired her” before a female staffer walked into the room, the report said.
Cuomo also frequently flirted with senior female aides, something that incentivized junior staffers to stay silent — even if his conduct made them uncomfortable or left them feeling “completely violated,” the report alleged.
Investigators said the gov “exhibited a close and sometimes physical intimacy” with his inner circle, including frequently kissing one senior female aide on the cheek and calling her “baby, sweetie and honey.”
The Executive Chamber was “rife with fear and intimidation” and full of “bullying behavior” — and “unflinching loyalty” to Cuomo and his senior staff was “highly valued,” the investigators found.
“Witnesses reported that the Executive Chamber under Governor Cuomo cultivated an environment that was highly protective of the Governor, above all else,” including “an intense focus on secrecy,” the report states.
Current and former employees described an “abusive” workplace where crying at ones desk was common, and where supervisors would blow mistakes out of proportion and went out of their way to ““make people feel stupid.”
One ex-staffer “noted that there was always an ‘element of fear,’ and people were always ‘looking behind their backs.’”
Another worker compared the office to a mix between TV’s “The West Wing” and the movie “The Devil Wears Prada.”
Staffers were left torn between facing Cuomo’s wrath, which “might hurt their careers and ability to focus on meaningful work” or his unwanted attention, which “might make them personally uncomfortable,” the investigators found.