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Another Cuomo aide comes forward, alleges governor touched, kissed her

NEW YORK — A third staffer to Gov. Andrew Cuomo accused him of inappropriate behavior, saying in a newspaper interview that he asked her if she had a boyfriend, called her “sweetheart,” touched her back and kissed her hand.

Ana Liss, 35, who worked for Cuomo between 2013 and 2015, told The Wall Street Journal that at first she saw the governor’s actions as harmless flirtations, but came over time to see it as patronizing and professionally diminishing.

Liss said in the story published Saturday night that she felt she went from being an educated professional to “just a skirt.”

“It’s not appropriate, really, in any setting,” Liss told the Journal.

Accusations of sex harassment and inappropriate behavior have led to an investigation by state Attorney General Letitia James and calls for Cuomo’s resignation. Cuomo said last week he had no plans to resign.

“Reporters and photographers have covered the governor for 14 years watching him kiss men and women and posing for pictures,” Cuomo adviser Rich Azzopardi said in a statement provided to the Journal and to The New York Daily News.

Azzopardi also cited a comment from Cuomo last week: “You know, my usual custom is to kiss and to hug and make that gesture. I understand that sensitivities have changed and behavior has changed, and I get it. And I’m going to learn from it.”

Liss told the Journal of a reception at the Executive Mansion in Albany where Cuomo “came right over to me and he was like, ‘Hey, Sweetheart!’”

Cuomo hugged her, kissed her on both cheeks, and wrapped his arm around her lower back and grabbed her waist. A photographer got a picture of the scene, the newspaper said.

Azzopardi said: “At the public open house mansion‎ reception, there are hundreds of people and he poses for hundreds of pictures. That’s what people in politics do.”

Liss said she never made a formal complaint about Cuomo’s behavior, but did ask for a transfer to another office.

While only a handful of Cuomo’s fellow Democrats have called on him to step down, Liss’ story will surely add to the political pressure against him.

Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, a Democrat, said Thursday that if one more accuser came forward, “I would think it would be time for him to resign.”

“Quite honestly, I am so, so disappointed that here we are in 2021 and we are having these conversations on the heels of #MeToo,” Stewart-Cousins told Spectrum’s “Capital Tonight” program.

Liss told the Journal that she decided to come forward after hearing the allegations from two other former aides, Charlotte Bennett and Lindsey Boylan.

In a Medium post in February, Boylan said that Cuomo suggested to her on an airplane trip that they should play strip poker. And in a CBS News interview aired Friday, Bennett called Cuomo a “textbook abuser.”

 

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