Lindsey Boylan, a former aide to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, says she resigned in 2018 after he forcibly kissed her during a meeting.
“My boss soon informed me that the Governor had a ‘crush’ on me,” Boylan wrote. “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.”
Boylan alleged that Cuomo had compared her to a former girlfriend, and asked her to play strip poker. “Telling my truth isn’t about seeking revenge. I was proud to work in the Cuomo Administration. For so long I had looked up to the Governor. But his abusive behavior needs to stop,” she wrote.
The allegations come at a moment of political peril for the longtime governor, once a liberal darling for his Emmy-winning TV hits at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic. He’s under fire for his handling of COVID-19 in nursing homes and clouded by allegations of bullying and strong-arming legislators, while a bipartisan group of state lawmakers are seeking to curb his emergency powers.
According to Boylan, the kiss occurred “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,” she wrote.
After the kiss, Boylan said, she walked by the desk of a fellow Cuomo staffer, Stephanie Benton. Boylan’s Medium post also included a 2016 screenshot, purportedly from Benton, stating that the governor wanted Boylan to know she “could be sisters” with alleged Cuomo ex Lisa Shields, “except you’re the better looking sister,” the screenshot read.
Boylan worked for Cuomo’s administration from 2015 to 2018, largely as chief of staff at the state economic development agency, according to her LinkedIn page. She said she resigned in September of that year—months after the kiss—having come “to work nauseous every day” after the incident.
“My relationship with his senior team—mostly women—grew hostile after I started speaking up for myself,” she added.
Boylan added that she had told friends that the governor would go out of his way to touch her “on my lower back, arms and legs.” In her Medium post, she included purported screenshots of texts with her mom after the governor’s office emailed her asking to know if she’d be appearing at an event.
“This is why I don’t trust gov,” Boylan wrote, including a screenshot of the email.
“He is a sexist pig and you should avoid being alone with him!” Boylan’s mother wrote, per the screenshot.
Cuomo denied Boylan’s allegations when she first raised them in December. “As we said before, Ms. Boylan's claims of inappropriate behavior are quite simply false,” Cuomo’s press secretary Caitlin Girouard said in a statement Wednesday.
Girouard’s statement provided flight logs and a quote from four former and current Cuomo aides to dispute Boylan’s claim that Cuomo asked her to play strip poker while she was on a private flight in 2017 with Cuomo, a press aide, and a state trooper. “We were on each of these October flights and this conversation did not happen,” the aides’ quote said.
The statement did not address any of the other allegations.
Another former Cuomo aide, Alexis Grenell, wrote a column in The Nation criticizing his aggressive style, though she did not accuse him of sexual misconduct.
“The Legislature has become increasingly young and female, defining a feminist vision for leadership and workplace conduct,” Grenell told The New York Times earlier this week. “It’s not an accident that his loudest critics are young women.”
Last week, New York State Assemblyman Ron Kim, a Democrat, alleged Cuomo had threatened to “destroy” him after he called for an investigation into Cuomo’s COVID-19 nursing home response.
“Cuomo is a coward who has abused his powers,” Kim wrote Wednesday on Twitter, sharing Boylan’s post. “As a lawmaker, I have the duty to hold him accountable. I will not stand down. I will stand with Lindsey Boylan.”
After the New York Post published audio of Cuomo aide Melissa DeRosa admitting to undercounting deaths in nursing homes, several state legislators have called on him to be stripped of his emergency powers.