Last month, as specific sexual harassment allegations began to be leveled against Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a longtime supporter of his family sent out an essay entitled, “Our Extraordinary Governor.”
The brief essay by William O’Shaughnessy, the owner of a local radio station in Westchester County, heaped lavish praise on the governor, noting he purchased 200 copies of Cuomo’s book about the pandemic.
“I never said he is perfect,” he wrote. “I am drawn to his defense and cause not alone because he is the son of Matlida Raffa Cuomo and Mario Matthew Cuomo. But I do believe it’s in the genes. The genes that make him so extaordinary. We might remember that as they pile on a governor who works so damn hard in our service.”
Cuomo is fighting for his political life amid mounting calls from Democrats and Republicans alike he resign or be impeached. Six women have so far accused him of sexual harassment and inappropriate behavior. He is also under scrutiny for his administration’s handling of nursing home during the pandemic and an under count of resident fatalities that’s now under review by federal investigators.
And during this time, anecdotes of a bullying, difficult boss have emerged from former staffers, at odds with the image Cuomo has struck across the country during the pandemic.
But even as Cuomo faces these allegations and controversies, longtime allies are sticking up for him. At the very least, they are aligning with his calls for Attorney General Letitia James’s office to be given time and space to conduct an investigation — an investigation he initially sought to control and one that would not end if he were leave office before the results are made public.
A part of this has been enlisting the state Democratic Committee, ostensibly under his control, to release statements backing the James investigation.
“I believe that these charges deserve to be he heard,” said former Rep. Nita Lowey, a Democrat from the northern New York City suburbs in a statement released Wednesday by the state Democratic Committee. “Attorney General Letitia James has appointed two outstanding attorneys to conduct an independent investigation. At least until they have reported their conclusions, the Governor should remain in office.”
NAACP’s New York leader, Hazel Dukes, had also released a statement through the state party urging voters to wait for the results of the AG’s probe, the same day Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins backed his resignation.
But Lowey also went further, pointing to her long standing ties to the governor’s family.
“I have been a friend of the Cuomo family for 47 years and known Andrew since he was a teenager. Like his father, Andrew has pursued a career in public service,” she said in the statement
“New Yorkers have elected him Governor three times. He has worked tirelessly, been a leader, and has delivered results for the people. I am saddened that recent accusations of misconduct toward women have led to calls for the Governor to resign or be impeached.”
Team Cuomo in recent days have touted polling that shows Democratic voters in New York are, for now, sticking with the governor and opposing his resignation midway through his third term (Cuomo would not answer directly on Tuesday if he is running for a fourth term).
The scant polling so far has shown Cuomo continues to draw support from women and non-white voters in New York. And so far, leaders in the state’s politically active labor unions have not spoken out against him.
“You don’t know any facts, you know allegations,” Cuomo said during the Tuesday afternoon phone call. “Let’s operate on facts. We have an investigation, qualified investigators.”