New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has come in the spotlight for allegations of chronic sexual misconduct and accusations that some of his top aides deliberately pressured the state health department to undercount Covid-19 nursing home deaths.
One of Cuomo’s accusers, former staffer Lindsey Boylan, has said the governor’s top aides "normalized" his inappropriate behavior. Here’s a look into the embattled governor’s senior administration:
Kathy Hochul, Lieutenant Governor
A Cuomo departure would usher in New York’s first female governor-- Kathy Hochul. And it wouldn’t be the first time she scored a political seat after men behaved badly, she won a special election in 2011 to fill the seat of Rep. Chris Lee, R-N.Y. The married congressman resigned after allegedly soliciting a woman on Craigslist.
She lost her race in 2012 after redistricting, and joined Cuomo for his second bid in 2014.
She’s been largely quiet on the allegations against her boss, saying only: "Everyone deserves to have their voice heard and taken seriously. I support an independent review," last Saturday after the second allegation came out.
But she’s been a staunch #MeToo advocate in recent years, peddling Cuomo’s landmark "enough is enough" legislation that worked to end sexual assaults on college campuses far and wide across the state.
"There is still a culture that is pervasive and that is why women in a workplace – whether they're in technology in Silicon Valley or in Hollywood or in the corridors of our legislatures and Congress – they're still being subjected to unwanted advances, sexual harassment and sometimes assault," she said in November 2017.
Melissa DeRosa, Chief of Staff
De Rosa, the governor’s right-hand woman, has been embroiled in both of the governor’s coinciding scandals-- named specifically by an accuser of Cuomo as someone who "normalized" his behavior and known as one of Cuomo’s top advisers who facilitated the undercount of nursing home deaths in New York.
Lindsey Boylan, former Cuomo adviser who accused him of unwanted kissing and touching as well as a pattern of inappropriate comments. Boylan said his behavior "was all so normalized — particularly by Melissa DeRosa and other top women around him — that only now do I realize how insidious his abuse was."
DeRosa spoke out Wednesday to say she was "incredibly proud" of the administration’s work on women’s issues.
"I’m also proud that, in my time as secretary, we’ve seen more women rise to [the] highest levels, in terms of commissioners and senior staff levels," DeRosa continued. "I don’t think that this diminishes any of that, and I look forward to continuing the work that we’re doing in order to continue the women’s agenda and strengthen women’s rights for all New Yorkers."
Like Cuomo, she urged everyone to await the results of state Attorney General Letitia James’ probe before passing judgment.
"I would just ask that everyone refrain from judgment until the attorney general is allowed to do her work," she said. "Everyone’s going to fully comply with that."
DeRosa was also among a list of Cuomo advisers, members of his Covid-19 task force, who pushed state health officials to remove nursing home residents who died in hospitals of Covid-19 from a public report on nursing home deaths. The chief of staff appeared regularly beside the governor at his daily Covid-19 press briefings last spring and summer.
Kelly Cummings, Deputy Chief of Staff and Director of State Operations and Infrastructure
Cummings is one of the highest-ranking former Republicans working for Cuomo. Before she joined the administration in 2016, she served as director of communications for the state Senate Republicans. Before that, she had been the been the GOP conference’s director of policy development.
Linda Lacewell, Superintendent of Financial Services
Lacewell, who serves as superintendent of the New York State Department of Financial Services, was also listed among the advisers who requested a change to the nursing home report. Prior to her DFS role, Lacewell served as Chief of Staff and counselor to the governor, where she focused on governmental ethics, according to the state government’s website. Lacewell also taught a class at NYU Law entitled: "Ethics in Government: Investigation and Enforcement."
Elizabeth Garvey, Special Counsel and Senior Adviser
Garvey has no doubt been working overtime as the Cuomo administration faces investigations facilitated by the state AG into both Cuomo’s behavior toward women in light of harassment claims and his nursing home undercount.
Garvey sent a referral to AG James this week granting her office the authority to move forward with the independent investigation into harassment claims.
Garvey also defended the governor’s senior advisers after Wall Street Journal and NY Times reports revealed they had influenced state health officials to remove hospital deaths from a July report on coronavirus-related nursing home deaths. In separate statements both Thursday and Friday, Garvey said the "out-of-facility data" – meaning the deaths in hospitals – was omitted from the July report after the state Department of Health "could not confirm it had been adequately verified."
Garvey is a former top aide and counsel to state Senate Republicans.
Robert Mujica, Director of Budget
Mujica took on the role of budget director in 2016. As of 2018, he made the most money of Cuomo's top aides, and even more than the governor himself.
Michael Kopy, Director of Emergency Management
Kopy, a longtime state police supervisor and former volunteer fire chief, joined the administration in 2019.
Kumiki Gibson, Counsel to the Governor
Gibson was named counsel to the governor in 2019. Previously she served as chief counsel to former Vice President Al Gore.