Nearly a dozen current and former staffers from Andrew Cuomo’s office have spoken out about a reportedly “intense work culture” described as “brutal” and “traumatic” amid claims of inappropriate behaviour against the New York governor.
The report, published by the New York City news publication Gothamist, detailed the accounts of several staffers to the Democratic governor, who has faced controversy in recent weeks over an investigation into nursing home deaths during the Covid-19 pandemic, and a separate probe surrounding alleged sexual misconduct.
“There’s no right or wrong way. It’s the Cuomo way,” a former staffer told Gothamist about the allegedly difficult work environment at the governor’s offices in Albany, New York. “He wants people who are literally going to fall on the sword for him, and they all will.”
The governor has defended himself amid explosive allegations from three former staffers who alleged he was sexually inappropriate to them in separate incidents, while apologising and saying it wasn’t his intention to hurt the women behind the claims. His office has agreed to fully cooperate with the investigation led by New York Attorney General Letitia James.
“Staff members are blaming each other for the way things are unfolding,” one current staffer reportedly told the outlet. “No one ever tells the governor he’s wrong about anything.”
They added: “People who are in a position to do that don’t ... the rest of us have to deal with the fallout.”
Still, several staffers disputed the negative accounts of the work culture in Mr Cuomo’s Albany offices, Gothamist noted, though some acknowledged the environment may not have been for everyone.
“I think everyone there wants to do the best work they can,” one staffer reportedly said, adding: “Sometimes that work-life balance is sacrificed. I was definitely burned out by the end of my time there.”
Mr Cuomo enjoyed soaring approval ratings throughout New York during the first wave of the coronavirus pandemic, as the state was hit hard in the initial outbreak of the novel virus in the United States.
But he has since faced criticism over an apparent miscounting of Covid-related deaths in the state’s nursing homes, as he reportedly instructed hospitals to send infected patients to certain nursing facilities throughout the region. The state’s attorney general is investigating the incident after a preliminary probe found the data had been mishandled. The FBI is also investigating the miscount.