When questioned by a female reporter about what his administration was doing to combat sexual harassment in state government, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo delivered a condescending defense, saying the question was doing “a disservice to women.”
The New York GOP called it a “bizarre lecture to a female journalist about sexual harassment” while noting it is behavior that “one of his top aides was guilty of.”
Public radio reporter Karen DeWitt wanted to know what new policies the Governor might implement in light of the recent national discourse on sexual harassment. She brought up Sam Hoyt, a top aide to the governor who recently resigned amidst an investigation of sexual harassment.
“You did have [harassment] going on within your own administration allegedly, with Sam Hoyt,” Dewitt began. “What could you do differently to kind of pick up on that?”
Cuomo, rather than answering the question or reflecting in-house, lectured her for even asking, then pointed out that harassment is a problem in journalism too. The political version of ‘I know you are, but what am I?’
The governor’s exchange with @kdewitt7 on possible changes to the state’s sexual harrassment policy in light of the surge in national stories on the issue, along with ex-aide Sam Hoyt. pic.twitter.com/pOJATOohRr
— New York NOW (@NYNOW_PBS) December 13, 2017
“I think you missed the point,” Cuomo told DeWitt. “When you say `it’s state government’ you do a disservice to women, with all due respect, even though you’re a woman.”
Undeterred, Dewitt asked Cuomo to name one thing he’s doing to combat sexual harassment in state government, a major epidemic that has plagued New York for many years.
“But can you just name one thing?” she asked.
“No,” Cuomo responded.
The New York GOP or even Trump’s campaign for 2020 should immediately make that into a political ad. ‘Name one thing you’ve done to combat sexual misconduct … No.’
Cuomo was asked about sexual harassment in state government & he both insulted the reporter and basically said “it’s just society, man” https://t.co/ed26KAnBz9
— Gabriella Paiella (@GMPaiella) December 13, 2017
Some background on Hoyt, whom the Governor is defending in this exchange, and has in other instances saying it wasn’t a mistake to hire him – Hoyt was hired by Team Cuomo in 2011, three years after he had an affair with a 19-year-old intern.
Cuomo does not think it was a mistake to have hired Sam Hoyt who faces a sex harassment lawsuit. He says “we are going to be very aggressive on women’s rights as we always have.”
— Nick Reisman (@NickReisman) December 13, 2017
“During his time in the Assembly, Hoyt was admonished for inappropriate contact with a 19-year-old intern in the chamber,” Politico reported.
“Hoyt, who represented Buffalo’s west side, said he would be her ‘human lollipop’ in a text message from 2003 that was reported in 2008,” the report reads. “Cuomo hired Hoyt three years later in 2011, saying he ‘puts the needs of his constituents and community first.'”
He abruptly resigned in October of 2017 during a state investigation into an extramarital affair with a woman who was a fellow state employee.
Yet Cuomo still views that as a good hire.
Perhaps this shouldn’t be much of a surprise. In 2014, the Governor was asked about his efforts to protect Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver amidst sexual harassment scandals occurring within the chamber.
“Yeah, that’s funny,” Cuomo laughed.
Silver’s extensive use of taxpayer funds in covering up sexual misconduct by state lawmakers led one journalist to refer to the capitol of New York as “the most sexually abusive workplace in the nation.”
Cuomo let those behaviors flourish, enabling predators in state government to operate without threat of recourse. He laughed about it.
Now, he lectures women on “sexual harassment” and refuses to address the problem. This is your leading candidate to unseat Trump in 2020, Democrats?
Should Cuomo be admonished by his peers for lecturing a woman on workplace sexual harassment? Share your thoughts below!