A former aide to Andrew Cuomo on Wednesday alleged that the New York governor asked her to play strip poker on a private jet in 2017 and a year later kissed her without permission. Lindsey Boylan, now a Democratic candidate for Manhattan borough president, made the shocking allegation in an essay posted on the Medium website.
Earlier in December, Boylan had alleged in tweets that Cuomo repeatedly "abused his power' and sexually harassed her for years, when she was serving as the deputy secretary for economic development and special adviser to him. Representatives for Cuomo, however, have denied all allegations against him.
On Wednesday, Bolan in an essay posted on Medium website, said of the alleged plane incident: "I should have been shocked by the Governor's crude comment, but I wasn't. I tried to excuse his behavior. I told myself 'it's only words." However, that changed following a one-on-one briefing with Cuomo to update him on the economic and infrastructure projects.
This time Cuomo was more daring and couldn't control himself. Bolan said that the incident happened in 2018. "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. I was in shock, but I kept walking," she said of the incident.
Boylan also alleges that Cuomo suggested, "Let's play strip poker," while they were "flying home from an October 2017 event in Western New York on his taxpayer-funded jet." The governor made the comment as he and Boylan sat facing each other, with his press aide to her right "and a state trooper behind us," according to her essay.
Boylan also wrote that Cuomo's repeated sexual assaults were the reasons behind her quitting her job. "I came to work nauseous every day and then resigned on September 26, 2018. Bolan told that she told about Cuomo's behavior to her friends that he would go out of his way to "touch me on my lower back, arms and legs" but that didn't help much.
Screenshots from emails between Cuomo's staff members, as well as text messages Boylan had sent to her mother, were included in the essay to show instances she felt harassed by the governor. Bolan said she was told by staff members that Cuomo had a "crush" on her.
This crush resulted in the governor allegedly seeking her out for specific tasks and even having aides arrange private meetings with her. Cumo's behavior was known to all his staff members but no one dared to speak up. Boylan also alleges Cumo's top female staffers "normalized" his behavior and that governor regularly sought her out.
Interestingly, according to Boylan, the governor would address her as 'Lisa', a reference to Lisa Shields, Cuomo's rumored girlfriend at the time.
The allegations come at a time, when Cuomo is under increasing pressure over his handling of COVID-19 deaths in New York's nursing homes. He and his administration have been accused of intentionally misreporting the number of COVID-19 deaths linked to nursing homes by not listing patients who were transferred to hospital and died there.
Boylan's allegations will only complicate things for Cuomo. His representatives have time and again denied the allegations and it wasn't any different this time around. "As we said before, Ms Boylan's claims of inappropriate behaviour are quite simply false," Caitlin Girouard, Cuomo's press secretary, said in a statement to The Independent.
The statement included the Cuomo's office's denial that Boylan was ever on a flight with Cuomo, a press aide, and a state trooper. They also provided file logs of flights from October 2017 and the passengers who were on those flights.