Yesterday we learned that the senior Democrat in the New York State legislature called on Governor Andrew Cuomo to resign after two more women came forward with allegations of sexual harassment. This didn’t sit well with the Governor, who promptly told the press that there was “no way” he was going to leave on his own. Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins was the highest-ranking Democrat in the state government to call for Cuomo to step down, but she was quickly joined by Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie… sort of. Heastie stopped short of using the “R word,” but said that he shared the concerns raised by Stewart-Cousins and wanted the Governor to “seriously consider whether he can effectively meet the needs of the people of New York.”
So with his own party in open revolt, how did Cuomo respond? In a call yesterday evening, the Governor told reporters that if they want him gone they’re going to have to impeach him. (Business Insider)
“They don’t override the people’s will, they don’t get to override elections,” Cuomo said. “I was elected by the people of New York state. I wasn’t elected by politicians.”
In a phone call with Stewart-Cousins on Sunday before the press conference, Cuomo told her they would have to impeach him if they wanted him gone, a source told AP.
Some lawmakers in the state have already called for Cuomo’s impeachment.
At least some members of Cuomo’s party in the legislature were already prepared for that eventuality. Six Democrats issued a letter yesterday calling for impeachment proceedings to begin. They’re going to need a lot more members to get on board before that could happen, but now that the leadership has broken ranks, they have provided cover for the rest of the pack to do the same.
There was one other notable development coming out of yesterday’s announcements that I wanted to touch on. When the Senate Majority Leader released her full statement calling for Cuomo to resign, she began by listing the same two issues that everyone else is citing. One is the nursing home scandal and the other is the sexual harassment allegations. But after that, Andrea Stewart-Cousins dropped in another complaint about the Governor. While listing all of the “distractions” that Cuomo is causing, she said, “there are also questions about the construction of a major infrastructure project.”
This is a subject that the media has largely been loath to discuss, at least in terms of directly tying Andrew Cuomo to it. The “major infrastructure project” Stewart-Cousins was referring to was obviously the Buffalo Billion. That was a massive spending package ostensibly intended to spur manufacturing growth and jobs in the upstate New York region. But it quickly became mired in scandals, with opportunistic Cuomo aides and donors lining their own pockets. Some of Cuomo’s tightest allies were sent to prison, while others were convicted but given lighter sentences.
Almost miraculously, even when so many in his orbit were being taken down, Andrew Cuomo himself somehow never wound up being seriously investigated, to say nothing of being charged with anything. The idea that he was completely blind to what was going on is laughable, but the Teflon Governor managed to skate away. Now, with the Senate Majority Leader resurrecting that story and tying it to the list of Cuomo’s other scandals, it may turn out to be yet another log being tossed on the woodpile surrounding the metaphorical stake to which they plan to lash Cuomo.
Could this be the beginning of the end? As I pointed out over the weekend, if the Democrats do manage to impeach Cuomo it will be only the second time that’s happened to a sitting governor in the history of the state. (The first was William Sulzer in 1913, who was in a fued with the Tammany Hall gang.) Break out the popcorn, folks. We may have lived to see even more interesting times.