Incoming governor to rid Albany of ‘unethical’ staff
Andrew Cuomo will be replaced as governor by one of the few people in his orbit who has seemingly not been on the receiving end of his trademark affection or scorn.
Kathy Hochul, who will become the first female governor in the state’s history, said she’s not close to her boss “physically or otherwise”.
Mr Cuomo referenced his penchant for kissing and hugging, learned from his mother and father, as a defence of sexual harassment accusations he says are simply examples of misunderstood affection.
He released a slideshow and an accompanying dossier of images with public figures showing examples of the affectionate style throughout his political career life. But don’t expect to see Ms Hochul among them.
“I think it’s very clear that the governor and I have not been close, physically or otherwise, in terms of much time,” she said to audible laughter from the assembled media at Wednesday’s press conference.
“And so I’ve been travelling the state and do not spend much time in his presence or in the presence of many in the state Capitol.”
While Mr Cuomo was accused of groping by his 32-year-old executive assistant, the 62-year-old lieutenant governor vowed that, by the end of her term, no one would ever describe her office as a “toxic work environment”.
She promised to purge her administration of any “unethical” staff that were alleged in the report by the state attorney general Letitia James to have retaliated against Mr Cuomo’s accusers.
The incendiary report released by Ms James concluded that Mr Cuomo sexually harassed 11 women in violation of state and federal laws. He is also alleged to have leaked information to the media in an attempt to discredit one of his accusers.
Mr Cuomo denies any allegations of wrongdoing or improper behaviour, saying in response to the attorney general’s investigation that he “never touched anyone inappropriately or made inappropriate sexual advances”.
Ms Hochul said she has spoken to her predecessor, who has “pledged his full support” to make the transition smooth when she assumes the role of governor in two weeks.
In the meantime, she is putting together her own Cabinet and listen to the concerns of New Yorkers.
“My style is listen first, then take decisive action,” Ms Hochul said.
One action she refused to be decisive on is whether she would consider a pardon for Mr Cuomo, who is facing at least one criminal complaint from his former executive assistant.
“It is far too premature to even have those conversations,” she said.