A current aide who accused New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo of sexual harassment slammed the embattled Democratic leader’s claims Wednesday that his team was following "rules" to protect two female accusers currently employed at his office from retaliation.
Alyssa McGrath, 33, is one of two current aides to accuse Cuomo of sexual harassment or misconduct. Another aide, whose name was not made public, accused the governor of groping her during an encounter at his mansion.
"Ms. McGrath has always feared retaliation given the history and public reports of how prior complaints have been handled," McGrath’s attorney Mariann Wang said in a statement. "There's every indication that the ‘rules’ that the Governor now invokes were not applied to protect those women."
Earlier this month, a senior aide to Cuomo told the Albany Times-Union that the governors’ office was conducting its own inquiry into the allegations. Garvey said the attorney general’s office was "fully informed" of the "required process" and noted that the current aide’s groping allegation was forwarded to the Governor’s Office of Employee Relations for review.
Staffers were purportedly told that the governor’s office would provide an attorney who could sit in with them during any interview with the attorney general’s investigators and that the attorney would be available to consult with them ahead of interviews.
The Times-Union said the offer "unsettled" some staffers.
Cuomo has denied wrongdoing and resisted calls from top lawmakers that he resign. The governor was asked Wednesday to comment on the steps his office was taking to protect the two current aides from retaliation.
"There are rules and conditions about how people who make complaints are handled and we are following those," Cuomo said.
"Certainly every individual who comes forward and makes a complaint is protected from retaliation and we are taking measures to ensure that that occurs in this case as well," Cuomo’s counsel Beth Garvey added.
McGrath’s attorney called on the governor’s office not to interfere with the independent investigation.
"The Governor and his office should allow the Attorney General’s lawyers to do their work without interference, and take no action against any victim or witness who has come forward," Wang said. "The idea that the Governor's own counsel is responsible for an investigation of the Governor's conduct defies credulity."
Both the New York State Attorney General’s office and the New York State Assembly have active investigations into the allegations against Cuomo. Eight women have accused Cuomo of sexual harassment, misconduct or inappropriate behavior.
Critics have accused Cuomo and his legal team of attempting to influence the inquiries into his alleged actions.
Members of the New York Senate Republican Conference penned a letter calling on State Attorney General Letitia James to bar Cuomo’s team from having any contact with potential witnesses.
"The Attorney General’s office is rightfully overseeing this investigation, as I and my colleagues first called for. The Governor’s office may refer to their actions as a ‘parallel review,’ but what it really is, is an effort to undermine the AG’s independent investigation," State Sen. Pam Helming said in a statement. "This is yet another reason why the Senate must act on our non-partisan, common-sense bills to protect our state government employees from harassment and intimidation."