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NY Governor Andrew Cuomo is facing increasing calls for his resignation following multiple sexual harassment allegations.  NY State AG is investigating.  Cuomo is also facing other harassment allegations and criticism over undercounting of nursing home fatalities associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.

http://www.nbcnewyork.com/news/local/cuomo-allegations-leave-democrats-grappling-with-response/2918032/

Edited by Dandruff
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A good read: "Andrew Cuomo and the old ‘I was just being playful’ excuse"

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Re: Andrew Cuomo. The New York governor has now been accused of unwanted sexual attention by three women. His second accuser, who went public with her story over the weekend, says that her former boss’s harassment took place within the past year, i.e. when Cuomo had never been more visible or famous: He was giving nationally televised news conferences and basking in his role as America’s designated pandemic dad.

If Charlotte Bennett’s allegations are true — she provided the New York Times with contemporaneous text messages in which she told a friend about the governor expressing interest in her sex life — then we can presume one of two things:

Option 1: Andrew Cuomo was just kidding around.

His current defense pleads this option. In a statement released Sunday, he said that “at work sometimes, I think I am being playful and I make jokes I think are funny,” in an attempt to “add some levity and banter to what is a very serious business,” and that he had now come to understand that his interactions “may have been insensitive or too personal.”

He did not address specific accusations, although he did say he never “touched” or “propositioned” anyone (his first accuser, Lindsey Boylan, had said that he kissed her without consent). Cuomo told the New York Times that he considered his relationship with Bennett, the second accuser, as being that of a mentor.

Letitia James, the state attorney general, has now been given full purview to investigate the claims. This is the right development, and a chance to answer some clarifying questions:

Did Cuomo ask his male mentees whether they were monogamous in relationships, and whether they’d ever had sex with an older man?

Did Cuomo ever tell his male mentees that he was thinking about the last time he’d hugged someone, and then, if they awkwardly said they missed hugging their parents, replied, “No, I mean like really hugged somebody.”

Did Cuomo, 63, ever acknowledge his male mentees’ 25th birthdays, and then casually note that he was fine with dating “anyone above the age of 22”?

Bennett says Cuomo made all of these remarks to her. If that’s true, does that create a blatantly hostile work environment? Would these actions place Cuomo in the pantheon of hideous boss-men such as Harvey Weinstein and Charlie Rose?

These questions bring us to Option 2:

Andrew Cuomo knew exactly what he was doing. But he was crafty about it. He was operating in a world of plausible deniability and limited liability. He was saying things that were uncomfortable, but not criminal.

If Lindsey Boylan had responded flirtatiously to Cuomo allegedly calling her alone into his office to show off the cigar box Bill Clinton had given him — which she says happened and which she thought was an allusion to Clinton infamously using a cigar as a sex toy with Monica Lewinsky — then, great! Cuomo could feel free to act on the “crush” that colleagues told Boylan the governor was nursing.

But if she responded negatively, if she complained or said it was inappropriate? Well, lady, sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.

Under this dynamic, Boylan and Bennett could be his paramours, or they could be crazy. Either way, Cuomo would get to retain the image of an appropriate boss and a stand-up man in the eyes of the public — and perhaps in his own eyes, too.

What it became increasingly difficult for both women to do, they say, was just be his employees.

So, which option was it? Nobody but Cuomo can know for sure. But Option 2 is the most plausible to me, and maybe to anyone who has ever heard a variation of, “Wouldn’t it be funny if you cheated on your boyfriend with me hahaha just kidding.”

The writer Lili Loofbourow coined the phrase “male bumbler epidemic” to describe all the accused men whose defense was, essentially, that they were far too incompetent to have harassed anyone.

“The world baffles the bumbler,” Loofbourow wrote. “He’s astonished to discover that he had power over anyone at all, let alone that he was perceived as using it. . . . The bumbler takes one of our culture’s most muscular myths — that men are clueless — and weaponizes it into an alibi.”

And so we get:

“At work sometimes, I think I am being playful and I make jokes I think are funny.”

“I now understand that my interactions may have been insensitive or too personal.”

Only now, Governor? Several years into the #MeToo movement? After dozens of powerful men have faced consequences for their inappropriate workplace behavior? A politician with the social acumen to rise to one of the more powerful positions in the country only now realizes that 20-something women don’t like being queried about their sex lives by their 60-something bosses while at work?

(His third accuser, Anna Ruch, says she met Cuomo in 2019 at a friend’s wedding, where he placed his hand on her bare lower back and, after she removed it, cupped her cheeks in his hands and asked, out of the blue, if he could kiss her: A photograph captured the face-cupping.)

To be realizing these things only now displays, if not malevolence, a lack of self-reflection. An unwillingness to look at the world and understand your place in it. If Cuomo really does believe he was just being playful, then perhaps he never interrogated himself on whether his playfulness was the same with men and women, and he never asked himself, honestly, what he was hoping the outcomes of these interactions would be.

I’ve spent the past three days fielding emails from readers demanding to know when I was going to write about Andrew Cuomo and, my goodness, at first it was hard to know what to say, or whether to say anything. In the past few years, we’ve seen sexual misconduct patterns that were so much wider, so much weirder, so much worse. Cuomo’s alleged actions seemed to take place in a liminal, discomfiting zone.

But then I realized that was the point. The point is that this scandal, more than anything, exemplifies the calculus that a typical female employee encounters every day in casual workplace sexism — the tiring, unsettling, nagging, self-doubting calculus: Is this wrong? Or am I wrong?

The point is that Cuomo could allegedly say these things to Bennett, and then go speak at a news conference with a clear conscience. He could dig for details of his employee’s sex life, and then go be a pandemic hero. Because he was, after all, just being playful. He was just adding levity.

And if you think otherwise? Well, he’s sorry that you took it that way.

 

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"Nearly 30 years after Anita Hill, what have we learned?"

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“I have three daughters,” New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo observed in October 2017, in the midst of controversy over returning political donations from Harvey Weinstein after the producer faced accusations of sexual assault. “I want to make sure at the end of the day, this world is a safer, better world for my three daughters.”

In an odd way, perhaps he has.

Every high-profile sexual harassment case raises, and helps resolve, questions of crime and punishment: what behavior is acceptable, how workplaces should respond and what price must be paid.

At this late stage, in 2021, one could be forgiven for wondering, with no small degree of exasperation, whether the perpetrators will ever learn. So it is possible to examine the stream of allegations about Cuomo and ask: Really? Has nothing changed?

But there is another, more hopeful interpretation: What once was commonplace — bosses asking out subordinates, co-workers making crude sexual remarks — is now understood to be forbidden, a career-killer.

Consider the progression of scandal.

When law professor Anita Hill came forward nearly 30 years ago with allegations that Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas had sexually harassed her, you could see the male senators charged with weighing her claims struggling to comprehend the realities of sexual harassment.

They knew they were supposed to say it was intolerable, but they could not understand how an accomplished lawyer could have remained silent in the face of such alleged behavior, even following Thomas to a new government job. The real-world costs to victims of harassment for speaking up were lost on them.

The next year, in 1992, The Post published an account of how Oregon Republican Sen. Bob Packwood, seen as a champion of women’s rights, made repeated, uninvited sexual advances to women on his staff.

The Packwood story showed a system rife with sexual exploitation and only starting to take harassment seriously. But it was not until almost three years after the initial report that Packwood resigned — and only as he was on the brink of expulsion, hours after the Senate Ethics Committee released devastating excerpts from his own diaries.

That was what it took to punish a serial harasser.

Then came President Bill Clinton, whose relationship with White House intern Monica Lewinsky appeared to be consensual but by definition could not have been: the most powerful man in the world with a woman young enough to be his daughter.

The shift in how society regards such behavior is exemplified by Lewinsky herself. “Sure, my boss took advantage of me, but I will always remain firm on this point: it was a consensual relationship,” Lewinsky wrote in a 2014 piece for Vanity Fair. Four years later, as the #MeToo movement took hold, Lewinsky’s charitable assessment changed. “It was a gross abuse of power,” she wrote.

It is possible to read the reports of Cuomo’s behavior and imagine that, in part at least, he internalized some of these historical lessons. He might have thought he was being careful and canny, but simply failed to realize how much has changed, and that harassment is intolerable even in an oh-so-slightly subtler form.

The first woman to come forward, Lindsey Boylan, described a textbook case of harassment, with Cuomo allegedly inviting her to play strip poker and kissing her on the lips — allegations he denied.

The second former Cuomo aide to speak out, Charlotte Bennett, related a more nuanced — and unchallenged — account, in which the governor appeared to be playing a coyer game, not directly propositioning Bennett but asking her leading questions about whether she “had ever been with an older man” and offering his assessment that “he’s fine with anyone above the age of 22.” (Bennett was then 25.)

Cuomo said in an initial statement that he had “never made advances toward Ms. Bennett, nor did I ever intend to act in any way that was inappropriate,” although he later acknowledged that “my interactions may have been insensitive or too personal.” Ya think?

The latest New York Times report about Cuomo opened a fuzzy new frontier in the harassment debate — conduct in a private setting, not the workplace. Anna Ruch, a guest at a 2019 wedding, recalled that Cuomo touched her first on her bare back; then, after she removed his hand, put his hands on her cheeks and asked if he could kiss her. The ensuing photo — bad luck there, Governor — testifies to her discomfort.

Politics is a notoriously handsy occupation, but Cuomo wasn’t asking male guests for a kiss. And unlike a corporate executive, an elected official out in public is never truly off the clock. Did he just figure his power gave him the freedom to violate what should be a clear rule of modern etiquette — don’t touch anyone without consent?

In the private sector, Cuomo would almost certainly be out the door. Elected office presents a different set of challenges. The offending manager can’t be moved to a different department. In the end, voters do the hiring and firing.

Three decades into this complex debate, Cuomo’s daughters live in a “safer, better world” — but also a world in which too many powerful men still believe they can behave badly and suffer no consequences.

 

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Cuomo has to go. He has gotten away with too many underhanded activities for too long. The nursing home debacle should have done him in but people keep making excuses for him! Why is that?

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18 hours ago, GreyhoundFan said:

(His third accuser, Anna Ruch, says she met Cuomo in 2019 at a friend’s wedding, where he placed his hand on her bare lower back and, after she removed it, cupped her cheeks in his hands and asked, out of the blue, if he could kiss her: A photograph captured the face-cupping.)

I agree that the workplace stuff is definitely harassment, but I fail to see how this is.

They were at a social event and he hit on her.  I think lumping this into the stuff that is actually harassment muddies the waters.  Am I missing something?

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11 minutes ago, HerNameIsBuffy said:

They were at a social event and he hit on her.  I think lumping this into the stuff that is actually harassment muddies the waters.  Am I missing something?

I agree that it's debatable if this particular example is work-related harassment. But it does illustrate that his behaviour towards women is consistently harassing in nature. And that begs the question: does it matter if the harassment is work-related or not? Harassing someone is harassing someone, no matter the setting. If at that social event he was ' only hitting on her', why did he cup her face in his hands and ask for a kiss when she had already clearly shown she didn't want him touching her? 

So, even though it might not be a work-related example, I think it exemplifies his whole demeanour towards women, and that makes the work-harassment allegations all the more believable.

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1 minute ago, fraurosena said:

I agree that it's debatable if this particular example is work-related harassment. But it does illustrate that his behaviour towards women is consistently harassing in nature. And that begs the question: does it matter if the harassment is work-related or not? Harassing someone is harassing someone, no matter the setting. If at that social event he was ' only hitting on her', why did he cup her face in his hands and ask for a kiss when she had already clearly shown she didn't want him touching her? 

So, even though it might not be a work-related example, I think it exemplifies his whole demeanour towards women, and that makes the work-harassment allegations all the more believable.

I guess I don't see that as harassment in a social setting.  I'm not defending being creepy....I just don't see that particular interaction as creepy without more context and I could be wrong.

The work stuff rings credible to me and if true he should be done in politics, or any time of management period.  

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13 minutes ago, HerNameIsBuffy said:

I guess I don't see that as harassment in a social setting.  I'm not defending being creepy....I just don't see that particular interaction as creepy without more context and I could be wrong.

The work stuff rings credible to me and if true he should be done in politics, or any time of management period.  

I think we're having a difference in semantics*, not of actual opinions. 

It seems that for you harassment is by definition work-related, and the behaviour in a social setting is not 'harassment', but 'being creepy'.

For me, the setting is irrelevant. The behavior itself is by definition harassment.

Semantics aside, both of us agree that Cuomo should be done.

 

*The meaning connected to words often differ between people -- and there is no right or wrong interpretation, just differences. So to be clear, I'm not implying your interpretation is wrong, just different from mine. 

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2 minutes ago, fraurosena said:

I think we're having a difference in semantics*, not of actual opinions. 

It seems that for you harassment is by definition work-related, and the behaviour in a social setting is not 'harassment', but 'being creepy'.

For me, the setting is irrelevant. The behavior itself is by definition harassment.

Semantics aside, both of us agree that Cuomo should be done.

 

*The meaning connected to words often differ between people -- and there is no right or wrong interpretation, just differences. So to be clear, I'm not implying your interpretation is wrong, just different from mine. 

I do think harassment can happen in social situations, not just work.  I just don't know if this particular instance rises to that without knowing more about it.

Because in social situations certainly more intimate/romantic overtures can be appropriate and welcome in a way they can never be at work (even if personally welcome.)  But socially once someone is clear that they do not welcome the attention, anything past that is harassment for me.  And moving his hand could mean knock it off, or it could mean just moving your hand for now, but please continue flirting with me.  

I am assuming she didn't welcome the attention as it bothered her, but was that communicated at the time?  If yes, then he harassed her.

Like the face in his hands thing and asking for a kiss.  It would always, 100%, be harassment at work*.  In social situations it could be harassment or it could be a very romantic gesture leading to something both parties enthusiastically consent to.  

(Asterisk because I work with several married couples which messes with my "always" and "never" scenarios for this kind of thing.

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59 minutes ago, fraurosena said:

Semantics aside, both of us agree that Cuomo should be done.

Count me in with "should be done".

I think both the workplace and non-workplace incidents should be carefully investigated and that care should also be taken to assess the real and perceived power differential between Cuomo and the women involved.  Did his aides feel that their jobs or careers would be threatened if they strongly rebuffed him and/or filed a complaint?  How uncomfortable did they feel working with him each day?  How burdened did the woman at the wedding feel following her encounter with him?  Did the event affect her other relationships/activities; e.g., did she feel she needed to make sacrifices in order to avoid him?

5 hours ago, Grandma D said:

The nursing home debacle should have done him in but people keep making excuses for him! Why is that?

Cuomo has long been viewed as doing good things for NY.  I think it's much harder for people to believe negative accusations about a person, and take corresponding action, when going against a positive reputation vs. not.  If the person is currently engaged in activities viewed as beneficial, then many - while being against the offensive behavior being reported - will also be considering what might happen if the beneficial activities are interrupted or stopped.  I believe this is a good part of the reason why former guy puts so much effort into boosting his image (despite so much evidence against it).  If people believe, or even just strongly suspect, that a person is offering present or future benefits they're going to tend to pause before recategorizing that person...and without recategorization, it's hard to get motivated to take action that may compromise the benefits.

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10 minutes ago, Dandruff said:

Count me in with "should be done".

I think both the workplace and non-workplace incidents should be carefully investigated and that care should also be taken to assess the real and perceived power differential between Cuomo and the women involved.  Did his aides feel that their jobs or careers would be threatened if they strongly rebuffed him and/or filed a complaint?  How uncomfortable did they feel working with him each day?  How burdened did the woman at the wedding feel following her encounter with him?  Did the event affect her other relationships/activities; e.g., did she feel she needed to make sacrifices in order to avoid him?

Cuomo has long been viewed as doing good things for NY.  I think it's much harder for people to believe negative accusations about a person, and take corresponding action, when going against a positive reputation vs. not.  If the person is currently engaged in activities viewed as beneficial, then many - while being against the offensive behavior being reported - will also be considering what might happen if the beneficial activities are interrupted or stopped.  I believe this is a good part of the reason why former guy puts so much effort into boosting his image (despite so much evidence against it).  If people believe, or even just strongly suspect, that a person is offering present or future benefits they're going to tend to pause before recategorizing that person...and without recategorization, it's hard to get motivated to take action that may compromise the benefits.

This is SUCH an excellent point.  People want to see the world in black and white and categorize people as good or bad.  When people are complex and are capable of doing both good and bad things.

If I give $1 million to a worthy charity and then come have a poop on the carpet I am both a generous philanthropist and a carpet pooper.  One doesn't negate the other, but the general public can be simple and people being good or bad, no shades of gray, make easier sound bytes.

(and I don't think good acts mitigate abuse and people should be held accountable for their bad acts, just saying we'd have more accountability in public figures if so much of the public didn't need a cartoon villain to believe the bad.)

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Just out of curiosity, has Chris commented on it on CNN?  Or are they allowing him to avoid the story?  Just curious and I don't watch him.

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24 minutes ago, HerNameIsBuffy said:

Just out of curiosity, has Chris commented on it on CNN?  Or are they allowing him to avoid the story?  Just curious and I don't watch him.

He made a very short statement a few evenings ago, saying that he is aware of what is going on with his brother, but he cannot cover the story, You can search on cnn.com and see it (it's video). For whatever reason, I can't get it to link here (I'm sorry).

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