De Blasio reacts to ex-staffer accusing him of 'penis politics': Administration is 'majority women'

'It’s been a female-led administration in so many ways,' de Blasio said

Democratic New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio declined Wednesday to directly respond to criticism levied by his former press secretary Karen Hinton, who wrote in a scathing op-ed accusing de Blasio of problematic behavior toward female staffers, instead emphasizing the role of women in his administration.

Hinton, who has worked as an aide to both and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo during her career, criticized both Democratic leaders in a New York Daily News column entitled "How to counter penis politics." In the column, Hinton said de Blasio maintained a "hectoring, inflexible approach that bordered on sanctimony" and created a work environment that left "female staffers feeling especially marginalized."


"Although the mayor preached a philosophy of egalitarianism, the workplace was pretty much like any other male-dominated environment I’ve been in: Women were interrupted more often and listened to less, whether they were a commissioner or a scheduler," Hinton wrote. "By the end of his first term, the mayor had lost twice as many senior officials who were women than men."

The column was published amid an ongoing spat between Cuomo and de Blasio, frequent rivals who have traded barbs throughout the coronavirus pandemic. When New York Assemblyman Ron Kim accused Cuomo of threatening to destroy his reputation over his criticism of the state’s nursing home scandal, de Blasio remarked that Cuomo’s "bullying is nothing new."

When asked about Hinton’s criticism of his own behavior since becoming mayor, de Blasio declined to directly respond to her column. Instead, he touted his close work with top female aides in shaping city policy both before and during the pandemic.

De Blasio also referenced his close relationship with his wife, Chirlane.

"I have not seen the piece. I’ll only talk about the history of this administration," de Blasio said. "From the beginning, literally from the very beginning, the leadership of this administration has been majority women and continues to be. My number one adviser, confidant, partner in everything, everyone knows, is Chirlane. My longest-serving aide, the person I have depended on and worked so closely with now for a decade or more, Emma Wolf, and four out of six deputy mayors are women."

"Throughout this administration, it’s been a female-led administration in so many ways, and I have tremendous respect for the folks who have been a part of this team," de Blasio added. "I listen to their voices and we make decisions. These are really, really tough issues, but we all work together, we all have real conversations together to get to a result. That’s been especially true during this crisis."

De Blasio’s office did not return a request for further comment.

Hinton also took Cuomo to task for his demeanor, describing the governor as a "master of the art" of political bullying she described as "penis politics." She wrote that Cuomo undermined her work, demanded 24-hour attention and attempted to block other career opportunities from coming to fruition.

Cuomo’s office did not return a request for comment.


"While they had different styles, both Cuomo and de Blasio had one thing in common," Hinton wrote. "Like many powerful men in politics, they create a public image as champions of women’s rights and equality. Behind closed doors, they use gender domination as one means to assert their power over women."

In a separate column published Wednesday, former Cuomo aide Lindsey Boylan accused the governor of engaging in a pattern of sexual harassment and unwanted advances. In one instance, she claimed the governor asked her to play "strip poker" during a flight.

Cuomo’s office denied he engaged in any wrongdoing, describing Boylan’s allegations as "quite simply false."