New York governor Andrew Cuomo’s grip on power is under threat as a majority of state legislators called for his resignation, Democrats launched an impeachment investigation and police said they stand ready to investigate a groping allegation.
The firestorm around the state’s leading Democrat grew a day after the Times Union of Albany reported that an unidentified aide had claimed Mr Cuomo reached under her shirt and fondled her at his official residence in the state capital late last year.
The woman has not filed a criminal complaint, but a lawyer for the governor said that the state had reported the allegation to the Albany Police Department after the woman involved declined to do so herself.
Beth Garvey, the governor’s acting counsel, said: “In this case the person is represented by counsel and when counsel confirmed the client did not want to make a report, the state notified the police department and gave them the attorney’s information.”
An Albany Police Department spokesperson, Steve Smith, told The New York Times police had reached out to a representative for the woman.
The possible involvement of police comes as more legislators called on Mr Cuomo to resign over alleged misconduct with women and allegations that his administration concealed how many nursing home residents died of Covid-19.
At least 121 members of the state assembly and senate have said publicly they believe Mr Cuomo should quit office now, according to a tally from The Associated Press. The count includes 65 Democrats and 56 Republicans.
The top Democrat in the state assembly, speaker Carl Heastie, has backed a plan for its judiciary committee to launch an impeachment investigation.
“The legislature needs to determine for itself what the facts are,” a member of the committee, assemblyman Tom Abinanti, said. “For the people who want immediate impeachment, I think we say please be patient. The process is slow. This could be the next step.”
In New York, the assembly is the legislative house that could move to impeach Mr Cuomo, who faces multiple allegations that he made the workplace an uncomfortable place for young women with sexually suggestive remarks and behaviour, including unwanted touching and a kiss. One aide claimed the governor’s aides publicly smeared her after she accused him of sexual harassment.
“All of us are extremely disappointed,” assemblywoman Aileen Gunther, a Democrat representing Orange and Sullivan counties, told The Associated Press. “I think there’s no room in the world right now for that kind of behaviour. He should have known better.”
Ms Gunther on Thursday became the ninth assembly Democrat saying they would vote for impeachment, alongside at least 37 Republicans.
Mr Cuomo’s support in the state senate is especially thin. Roughly two-thirds of its members have called for the Democrat’s resignation, including majority leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins.
A group of 59 Democrats, including 19 senators and 40 Assembly members said in a letter that it is time for Mr Cuomo to go.
The letter read: “In light of the governor’s admission of inappropriate behaviour and the findings of altered data on nursing home Covid-19 deaths he has lost the confidence of the public and the state legislature, rendering him ineffective in this time of most urgent need.
“It is time for Gov Cuomo to resign.”
Mr Cuomo has repeatedly said he will not resign and urged the public to await the outcome of the attorney general’s investigation.