Embattled New York governor Andrew Cuomo reportedly helped draft a letter intended to discredit and disparage one of his sexual harassment accusers.
The letter began circulating after Lindsey Boylan, 36, made her accusations on Twitter in December, the first person to publicly come forward against the governor.
She alleges Cuomo kissed her without warning in 2018 and asked her to play strip poker prior to that.
‘Weaponizing a claim of sexual harassment for personal political gain or to achieve notoriety cannot be tolerated,’ one version of the letter read, according to the New York Times.
‘False claims demean the veracity of credible claims.’
Andrew Cuomo is again under fire for reportedly being part of an effort to discredit an accuser
The New York governor helped write a letter that accused Lindsey Boylan of ‘weaponizing a claim of sexual harassment for personal political gain.’ The letter was never released
It’s unclear what extent Cuomo was involved in the drafting of the letter, but he reportedly helped create it at the least. Multiple drafts of the letter were created, with current aides sending at least one version to former advisers to Cuomo.
Associates of the governor hoped that former aides would the letter, particularly female former aides, with at least two former officials declining to do so.
The letter was never released to the public, but in public comments after Boylan’s accusations, Cuomo said, ‘I believe a woman has the right to come forward and express her opinion and express issues and concerns that she has. But it’s just not true.’
One draft of the letter stated Boylan was ‘supported by lawyers and financial backers of Donald Trump: an active opponent of the governor.’ It also claims she was out for ‘political retribution.’
Shortly after she made the accusations against Cuomo, the governor’s administration released personnel records, which painted Boylan in a negative light, detailing disciplinary recommendations against her.
Boylan is running in the election to be the next Manhattan borough president.
Boylan, the first public accuser of Cuomo, is running for Manhattan borough president
Cuomo’s administration didn’t comment on the letter, but Jill Basinger, Boylan’s lawyer, reacted to the unpublished letter Tuesday.
‘Once again, a victim of sexual harassment who has the courage to tell her story is put in the position of not only having to relive the trauma of a toxic work environment but defend herself against the malicious leaking of supposed personnel files, character assassinations and a whisper campaign of retaliation. This page needs to be ripped out of the governor’s harassment handbook.’
This is not the first time there have been allegations that Cuomo or his aides have attempted to discredit accusers.
The Wall Street Journal reports calls were made from his office to six former employees after accusations against Cuomo first emerged.
These calls appeared to be attempts to gain information about Boylan and were led by Melissa DeRosa, Cuomo’s top aide.
‘I felt intimidated, and I felt bewildered,’ said Ana Liss, a former aide who received a call and who has also accused Cuomo of inappropriate behavior.
Cuomo has denied all of the accusations against him and has refused to resign from his post
Several women have accused Cuomo of sexual harassment or inappropriate behavior in the past few months, all accusations which he has denied.
There have been calls for his resignation from prominent New York senators, including Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand.
Speaking to ABC News on Tuesday night, President Joe Biden said Cuomo should resign if the allegations against him turn out to be true.
‘There could be a criminal prosecution that is attached to it. I just don’t know,’ Biden added.
Letitia James, the New York attorney general, is currently undertaking an independent inquiry into Cuomo.
The State Assembly has also opened an impeachment investigation into Cuomo.
While Cuomo tries to withstand accusations and challenges on sexual harassment and the environment surrounding his office, he is also still facing questions about a scandal involving nursing home deaths.
His administration reportedly covered up the amount of COVID-19 nursing home deaths, which could be linked to a policy that told nursing homes to take back former COVID-19 patients who had hospital stays.
His aides then reportedly rewrote a report from the health department to fudge the number of deaths.