There remains a blackout on the sexual harassment allegations against Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo by most major media outlets. Putting aside the striking lack of interest in comparison to the allegations raised against Justice Brett Kavanaugh, the controversy from that confirmation fight could raise difficult questions for Cuomo who not only insisted that Dr. Christine Blasey Ford must be believed but demanded that Kavanaugh take a polygraph examination. It is not clear if Cuomo will now follow his own standard and take a polygraph examination arranged by others.
During the Kavanaugh hearing, various Democratic leaders publicly insisted that “women must be believed” when raising sexual harassment allegations and declared Kavanaugh guilty before either he or Ford actually testified. Senator Maxie Hirono publicly stated that Kavanaugh was not even entitled to any presumption of innocence. Indeed, Hirono insisted that men needed to “just shut up” and accept the allegations.
The view that “women must be believed” changed the minute that Joe Biden was accused of sexual assault and then refused to allow the review of his papers held under seal at the University of Delaware. Suddenly, figures like Nancy Pelosi and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer insisted that they believed Biden without any review such papers or even speaking with the alleged victim (a former Biden staffer). Ethics experts like Richard Painter attacked those who suggested that the accuser might be telling the truth as endangering the election. Others like Rep. Iihan Omar, Linda Hirschman, and Lisa Bloom found an even more startling resolution: they stated that Biden was clearly a rapist, but they would still vote for him.
The allegations raised by former Biden aide Lindsey Boylan are notably easier to confirm. She stated “Yes, [Cuomo] sexually harassed me for years. Many saw it, and watched. I could never anticipate what to expect: would I be grilled on my work (which was very good) or harassed about my looks. Or would it be both in the same conversation? This was the way for years.”
These are not allegations that are decades old with few, if any, witnesses. Boylan worked for the governor’s administration from 2015 to 2018 and says that there were many witnesses. Notably, the Kavanaugh hearing was in 2018.
In fairness to Cuomo., I was surprised by Boylan making these serious allegations against Cuomo and then saying that she would not speak with reporters on the details. She stated on Twitter “To be clear: I have no interest in talking to journalists. I am about validating the experience of countless women and making sure abuse stops. My worst fear is that this continues.” That is hardly fair to Cuomo to declare him a harasser and then refuse to support the allegations.
As with Kavanaugh, I believe both sides need to be heard and that we should not assume Cuomo is guilty based on an allegation. Some groups however are not waiting. UltraViolet co-founder Shaunna Thomas has called for Cuomo to apologize (though notably not to resign) for his harassment of women. Other groups with the Me Too Movement, Time’s Up and EMILY’s List who led the calls with Kavanaugh were conspicuously silent when the Democratic governor was accused.
The strongest case against Cuomo may be Cuomo. In the Kavanaugh hearing, Cuomo declared Kavanaugh clearly guilty. He publicly declared
“The confirmation of Judge Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court is a sad day for this country, and it will haunt us for as long as he is on the court.
Today 50 senators put partisan politics over the sanctity of the highest court in the nation. In November, the American people get to respond and make their voices heard.
In New York, we will not waver and will not back down. To Dr. Christine Blasey Ford and all survivors of sexual assault, we believe you and we will fight for you. The sham FBI investigation and the bigger sham, this confirmation process, have energized us to fight even harder for our shared vision for a better future for all.
We will not wait for our rights to be taken away. Here in New York, I vow to codify Roe v. Wade within the first 30 days of my next administration, strengthen our common-sense gun safety laws and continue our progress expanding access to quality affordable health care. While extreme conservatives in Washington try to take this nation backward, New York will lead the way forward.”
Cuomo was one of the most vocal figures to demand that women must be believed. Cuomo then added the Republicans who supported Ford in the hearing “ Cuomo declared “A woman’s testimony is worth as much as a man’s. That shouldn’t be a controversial proposition.”