Gettin’ a little sweaty in Albany:
NEW from @CarlHeastie:
"In light of the allegations concerning the Governor over the last several weeks, I will be meeting with members in conference today on potential paths forward."
— Ben Max (@TweetBenMax) March 11, 2021
Gettin’ a little sweaty nationally too:
His favorable rating is now underwater within his own party, at -12. Among independents, it’s … -52.
The latest news on his metastasizing sexual harassment scandal is that the Albany police are now involved. That doesn’t mean they’ve opened an investigation, but they spoke to Cuomo’s acting counsel last night as a matter of protocol after news broke about what his sixth accuser claims he did to her. That accuser hasn’t filed a complaint with the police but her lawyer has spoken to the cops. If she does end up pressing charges and comes forward to tell her story, what do Democrats in the state legislature do then?
Tonight’s meeting organized by Heastie is designed, I assume, to take the temperature of his caucus. Forty Dems in the state assembly have called on Cuomo to resign but typically the party likes to have a clear majority of the 150-member chamber from its own ranks in favor of a given action before bringing it to the floor, which means they’d need 76 Dems in favor of impeachment. Once the state senate takes up the matter, two-thirds would be needed to convict; coincidentally, Dems hold exactly two-thirds of that chamber’s seats. In other words, if they’re serious about not letting Republicans provide the deciding votes to oust a three-term Democratic governor, they’re going to need virtually every Dem in the legislature to be onboard. How likely is that, really?
My guess is they’ll do nothing and keep waiting on investigators, but maybe not as long as they’re currently inclined to. Right now they’re holding off on impeachment or some other penalty (censure?) while AG Letitia James looks into the various claims against Cuomo. But if the Albany D.A. were to file criminal charges against him for sexual assault — which is clearly what the latest accuser is alleging, given the details — is that the last straw? If they wait around for a trial before deciding to dump him, they could be waiting a year or more.
On the other hand, the Democratic view of how to handle #MeToo cases has clearly evolved over the last few years, as embodied by the person of Kirsten Gillibrand. Gillibrand moved quickly in calling for Al Franken, Brett Kavanaugh, and Donald Trump to quit when they were accused, and she’s said that Bill Clinton should have resigned over the Monica Lewinsky affair. But when it comes to whether Cuomo should step down now, she resents even being asked:
“Asking every female elected in our state when a person should resign or not resign really isn’t the conversation we should be having. And I have to say, it’s exceedingly frustrating because so many men who are also in public leadership aren’t asked these questions day to day,” she said. “The women in our state are not meant to be judges, jurors and executioners.”…
“I really resent the fact that.. the news media calls on every woman elected to [judge] every single time,” she said. “Unfortunately, what it does is then turn the spotlight on the women of the state when they should be squarely on the individuals who are being accused of sexual harassment.”
Congrats to her on relinquishing the roles of judge, jury, and executioner, which she seemed to enjoy so very much until recently.
Back to Cuomo. As James digs into what he did to the women who have accused him of sexual misconduct, there’s a related mystery swirling that needs solving. How did personnel documents related to Lindsey Boylan, Cuomo’s first accuser, end up in the hands of reporters after she first went public in December?
Within hours of Boylan’s tweet on December 13th, several news outlets reported that they had “obtained” state-government documents relating to Boylan’s job performance in the Cuomo administration. The documents—described by the Associated Press as “personnel memos,” by the Post as “personnel documents,” and by the Times Union as “personnel records”—said that several women had complained to a state-government human-resources office that Boylan had “behaved in a way towards them that was harassing, belittling, and had yelled and been generally unprofessional.” According to the Post’s account, “three black employees went to state human resources officials accusing Boylan, who is white, of being a ‘bully’ who ‘treats them like children.’ ” According to the Associated Press, the documents said that Boylan resigned after being “counseled” about the complaints in a meeting with a top administration lawyer. Reporters who wanted to dig into Boylan’s accusations against Cuomo now had to contend with the possibility that there were people out there who might have accusations to make against Boylan. At best, the documents seemed to raise questions about Boylan’s reliability. At worst, they painted her as a racist…
One former senior official in the Cuomo administration whom I spoke to said it was impossible to imagine that Cuomo himself hadn’t approved the leak of the Boylan documents. “There’s no question he would know about it, and direct it,” the former official said. “That’s how he would think.”
When asked for comment about whether Cuomo himself had leaked them, Cuomo’s counsel wouldn’t flatly deny it. What makes this more interesting than a standard bit of political oppo research is that “the leak may have violated New York’s human-rights laws, which classify allegations of sexual harassment as protected speech and prohibit retaliation against such allegations by an employer.” Which, actually, may be the state assembly’s strongest basis for removing Cuomo. It will be hard to prove the allegation of assault against him, and the complaints about Boylan and others of inappropriate banter and unwanted kisses may be seen as not quite sleazy enough to warrant ousting him from office. But trying to destroy a sexual-harassment accuser by leaking confidential documents in violation of the law could do the trick, especially since it would jibe with Cuomo’s reputation for being a crazed cutthroat bully with his enemies. All Dems need is a well-placed witness on the inside who knows how the leak happened. The cult of Cuomo needs to crack.