New York, New York
Governor Cuomo, already in deep with his and his administrations obstruction of nursing home data from state officials and President Trump’s federal probe has been outed again by his former aide Lindsey Boylan. When Mrs. Boylan came out on social media months ago telling about her ordeals with the megalomaniac governor, it got virtually ignored by corporate news with the exception of the NY Post and myriad conservative news outlets. But now she’s gone nuclear detailing Cuomo’s equally lecherous side of his repeated flirtations and lurking her during her few years working in his administration.
“Let’s play strip poker”
I should have been shocked by the Governor’s crude comment, but I wasn’t.
We were flying home from an October 2017 event in Western New York on his taxpayer-funded jet. He was seated facing me, so close our knees almost touched. His press aide was to my right and a state trooper behind us.
“That’s exactly what I was thinking,” I responded sarcastically and awkwardly. I tried to play it cool. But in that moment, I realized just how acquiescent I had become.
Governor Andrew Cuomo has created a culture within his administration where sexual harassment and bullying is so pervasive that it is not only condoned but expected. His inappropriate behavior toward women was an affirmation that he liked you, that you must be doing something right. He used intimidation to silence his critics. And if you dared to speak up, you would face consequences.
I joined state government in 2015 as a Vice President at Empire State Development. I was quickly promoted to Chief of Staff at the state economic development agency. The news of my appointment prompted a warning from a friend who served as an executive with an influential civic engagement organization: “Be careful around the Governor.”
My first encounter with the Governor came at a January 6, 2016, event at Madison Square Garden to promote the new Pennsylvania Station-Farley Complex project. After his speech, he stopped to talk to me. I was new on the job and surprised by how much attention he paid me.
My boss soon informed me that the Governor had a “crush” on me. It was an uncomfortable but all-too-familiar feeling: the struggle to be taken seriously by a powerful man who tied my worth to my body and my appearance.
Stephanie Benton, Director of the Governor’s Offices, told me in an email on December 14, 2016 that the Governor suggested I look up images of Lisa Shields — his rumored former girlfriend — because “we could be sisters” and I was “the better looking sister.” The Governor began calling me “Lisa” in front of colleagues. It was degrading.
I had complained to friends that the Governor would go out of his way to touch me on my lower back, arms and legs. His senior staff began keeping tabs on my whereabouts. “He is a sexist pig and you should avoid being alone with him!” my mother texted me on November 4, 2016.
The Governor’s behavior made me nervous, but I didn’t truly fear him until December 2016. Senior State employees gathered at the Empire State Plaza Convention Center in Albany to celebrate the holidays and our year’s work. After his remarks, the Governor spotted me in a room filled with hundreds of people waiting to shake his hand. As he began to approach me, I excused myself from coworkers and moved upstairs to a more distant area of the party.
Minutes later, I received a call from an unlisted number. It was the Governor’s body person. He told me to come to the Capitol because the Governor wanted to see me.
I made my way through the underground connection that linked the Plaza to the Capitol. As the black wrought-iron elevator took me to the second floor, I called my husband. I told him I was afraid of what might happen. That was unlike me. I was never afraid.
I exited the elevator to see the body person waiting for me. He walked me down the Hall of Governors. “Are there cameras here?” I asked him. I remembered my mother’s text warning the month before. I worried that I would be left alone with the Governor. I didn’t know why I was there. Or how it would end.
I was escorted into the Governor’s office, past the desks of administrative assistants and into a room with a large table and historical artifacts. The door closed behind me. It was my first time in his Albany office. The Governor entered the room from another door. We were alone.
As he showed me around, I tried to maintain my distance. He paused at one point and smirked as he showed off a cigar box. He told me that President Clinton had given it to him while he served as the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. The two-decade old reference to President Clinton’s affair with Monica Lewinsky was not lost on me.
The Governor must have sensed my fear because he finally let me out of the office. I tried to rationalize this incident in my head. At least he didn’t touch me. That made me feel safer.
His inappropriate gestures became more frequent. He gave roses to female staffers on Valentine’s Day and arranged to have one delivered to me, the only one on my floor. A signed photograph of the Governor appeared in my closed-door office while I was out. These were not-so-subtle reminders of the Governor exploiting the power dynamic with the women around him.
In 2018, I was promoted to Deputy Secretary for Economic Development and Special Advisor to the Governor. I initially turned the job down — not because I didn’t want the responsibility or work but because I didn’t want to be near him. I finally accepted the position at the Governor’s insistence with one requirement — I would keep my old agency office and remain on a separate floor from him and his inner circle.
The Governor’s pervasive harassment extended beyond just me. He made unflattering comments about the weight of female colleagues. He ridiculed them about their romantic relationships and significant others. He said the reasons that men get women were “money and power.”
I tried to excuse his behavior. I told myself “it’s only words.” But that changed after a one-on-one briefing with the Governor to update him on economic and infrastructure projects. We were in his New York City office on Third Avenue. As I got up to leave and walk toward an open door, he stepped in front of me and kissed me on the lips. I was in shock, but I kept walking.
I left past the desk of Stephanie Benton. I was scared she had seen the kiss. The idea that someone might think I held my high-ranking position because of the Governor’s “crush” on me was more demeaning than the kiss itself.
Governor Cuomo must have instinctively saw this recent manifesto of his serial abuses of power and intimidation coming, because when he decided to premiere a new vaccination site at York College in Jamaica, Queens, he showed up there at the crack of dawn to live stream it for the state’s government website at 7:30 AM to give the first inoculations (one of them to Democrat/Cuomo loyalist State Senator Leroy Comrie) and naturally refused access to the press for this newsworthy event a few hours before Mrs. Boylan posted her article online.
This inspired a former high ranking aide to Mayor de Blasio to write an article about her own experience with working with the tyrannical governor and correlated it with her time enduring de Blasio’s similar though mild brand of sexism and megalomania.
Mayor de Blasio, for whom I also worked and knew for 25 years, both at HUD and as New York City mayor, practices a different brand of penis politics. His charming, easygoing personality he had when we worked together in the federal government gave way to a hectoring, inflexible approach that bordered on sanctimony when I was his press secretary at City Hall.
His signature move as mayor was to dig in on an untenable position against the advice of staff, raising the cost of an inevitable defeat. Discussions with staff were marked by condescension, leaving the female staffers feeling especially marginalized. It made for an uncomfortable work environment.
Although the mayor preached a philosophy of egalitarianism, the workplace was pretty much like any other male-dominated environment I’ve been in: Women were interrupted more often and listened to less, whether they were a commissioner or a scheduler. By the end of his first term, the mayor had lost twice as many senior officials who were women than men.
When The Blaz was queried about this article that detailed his duplicitous manner towards and passive aggressive undermining of most of his top female staffers, he reverted to his proclivity for identity politricks by validating his recognition and support of women in his administration and their impact on the city’s policies by citing his tax-boondoggle wife:
“I have not seen the piece, I’ll only talk about the history of this administration, um, from the beginning, literally from the very beginning, the leadership of this administration has been majority, woman and continues to be. My number one advisor, confidante, partner in everything everyone knows is Chirlane. My longest serving aide and person I have depended on and worked so closely with now for over a decade or more, Emma Wolfe. And four out of six deputy mayors are women and throughout this history of this administration, it’s been a female led administration in so many ways and I have tremendous respect for the folks who have been a part of this team”
For the Blaz, the women he appointed to work with and under him in the high echelons in his cabinet are just woke window dressing, while women working for Cuomo have to develop a tolerance for misogynistic put-downs, creepy flirtations and sneaky kisses. Both of which prove that these two ghouls are truly equals not only in incompetent and unaccountable leadership but also continuing the historic and cultural establishment undermining and objectifying of women in the workplace and should be abolished from running any executive position in government or the private sector or even to run a hot dog stand (especially Cuomo, who should be legally sanctioned with restraining order to keep 10 ft. distance away from any phallic resembling foodstuffs).