We wonder if Gov. Andrew Cuomo has undergone the anti-sexual harassment training the rest of us do every year. If so, it didn’t take.
Let us say at the top that Cuomo, like anyone else, is entitled to have the claims against him investigated before judgment is rendered.
Women have accused him of harassment. He has flatly denied some of the claims.
But even the things to which he has admitted fall outside the bounds of acceptable behavior. They’d have earned any of us mere mortals a trip to the HR office at the very least.
Cuomo’s “apology” was lame at best.
“At work sometimes I think I am being playful and make jokes that I think are funny,” he said in a prepared statement. “I do, on occasion, tease people in what I think is a good natured way. I do it in public and in private. You have seen me do it at briefings hundreds of times. I have teased people about their personal lives, their relationships, about getting married or not getting married. I mean no offense and only attempt to add some levity and banter to what is a very serious business.”
We have seen those briefings. The public jibes are never funny. We can only imagine how the private ones impact people who, in subservient positions to the governor, are afraid to respond.
“I now understand that my interactions may have been insensitive or too personal and that some of my comments, given my position, made others feel in ways I never intended,” he continued. “I acknowledge some of the things I have said have been misinterpreted as an unwanted flirtation. To the extent anyone felt that way, I am truly sorry about that.”
Why is that harassers understand such things only after they get in trouble? Why should we believe that now, when his deeds have had harsh light cast upon them, he has become “truly sorry”?
Cuomo seems to think his behavior falls short of the standard of harassment, however.
“To be clear I never inappropriately touched anybody and I never propositioned anybody and I never intended to make anyone feel uncomfortable, but these are allegations that New Yorkers deserve answers to,” he said.
At least two women say Cuomo did touch them inappropriately. Their accusations — like those of another woman who told of verbal harassment — deserve investigation and it seems Attorney General Letitia James is just the woman for the job.
James, who has shown independence before, did so again when she rejected a Cuomo proposal to conduct an investigation under terms that would have given her less than the full authority she needed. In the face of her strength, Cuomo capitulated and granted the legal referral necessary under law to complete the investigation.
We look forward to the result of that investigation and urge all involved in state government to allow it to run its course.
We have little patience for Cuomo enemies, particularly Republicans, who wring their hands, clutch their pearls and cry for immediate resignation or impeachment. They were strangely silent, or even dismissive of victims, when Donald Trump was accused of worse, by more women.
Impeachment or resignation may well be in order. It’s important for the governor — and all people who hold power over others — to understand there are limits on that power, that their authority is confined to the job and does not extend into personal lives.
But let’s find out, through real investigation, where the truth lies. Everyone, including Andrew Cuomo, deserves that much.