A former aide to Andrew Cuomo while he served as secretary of Housing and Urban Development alleged a “pattern” of discrimination and harassment while working with the now-governor of New York, calling him a “master of the dark art.”
Karen Hinton, who served as a press secretary for Cuomo when he was secretary of Housing and Urban Development in former President Clinton’s administration, penned an op-ed in The Daily Mail on Monday, titled “The Andrew Cuomo I have known: A long pattern of harassing staffers, especially women,” saying she witnessed a “pattern” of Cuomo’s misconduct.
“Studies have shown that toxic work environments for women grow after a male boss or co-worker commits multiple incidents of sexual harassment and abuse. Each incident may seem small at times, but they add up, creating a pattern,” Hinton wrote. “This has been the case with Andrew Cuomo, accused of sexual advances, abuse and harassment by at least 10 women, former and current staff in his office.”
Hinton first took her allegations of sexual harassment against Cuomo public in March. Cuomo has denied the allegations.
But in the op-ed Monday, Hinton recalled incidents involving other unnamed staffers at the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
“Cuomo refused to hire a highly qualified woman for a HUD position because she was ‘not attractive enough’ for him, he told me,” Hinton wrote. “He hired a white guy.”
She added: “This wasn’t sexual. It was gender discrimination, not a trivial offense.”
Hinton also wrote that female staffers had been bullied and publicly humiliated by Cuomo.
“This wasn’t kissing. It was sexual harassment and discrimination,” she wrote.
Hinton also claimed she witnessed Cuomo “flirt with and tease a young, attractive staffer at HUD who began to think Cuomo cared for her.”
“As a result, she and her boyfriend, who had worked for Cuomo, broke up. Cuomo’s flirt had been a payback move because the boyfriend had left his job without Cuomo’s permission. A few years later, the woman staffer reappeared in New York looking for a job, and Cuomo did nothing to help her,” she wrote.
“This was more about power and control than a sexual overture,” Hinton said.
“I call this ‘penis politics,’ a form of political art that’s not just about sexual abuse but is always about gender discrimination,” Hinton wrote, calling Cuomo “a master of the dark art.”
“That’s why I won’t reveal the names of these women publicly. It’s their stories to tell. Whether anyone will believe us is another story about evidence,” she wrote. “But a telling piece of evidence is the pattern of misconduct.”
Cuomo has fallen under intense scrutiny as 10 women have mounted allegations of sexual harassment against him, leading to an independent investigation by the state attorney general, Letitia James, and an impeachment investigation in the State Assembly.
Cuomo has vehemently denied the allegations and has offered public support for the investigations.
Cuomo has served as governor of New York since 2011. He would be just the second governor to be impeached in state history if the State Assembly opts to move forward with impeachment proceedings.
Hinton, in her op-ed, questioned whether state investigators looking into the charges will “believe” the women.
“Will they see the pattern? Or will they dismiss them as others have been dismissed for far too long?” she wrote.
Last week, at a state coronavirus briefing, Cuomo said “harassment is not making someone feel uncomfortable” while telling reporters he is “eager” to tell New Yorkers the other side of the story as he continued to deny the allegations.
When asked to acknowledge that one’s intentions, according to the law, don’t matter in instances of sexual harassment, Cuomo responded, “I never said anything I believe is inappropriate.”
“You can leave this press conference today and say, ‘Oh, the governor harassed me.’ You can say that,” the Democrat said. “I would say I never said anything that I believed was inappropriate. I never meant to make you feel that way. You may hear it that way. You may interpret it that way. And I respect that. And I apologize to you if … I said something you think is offensive.”
Cuomo went on to argue the definition of harassment.
“Harassment is not making someone feel uncomfortable,” he said. “That is not harassment. If I just made you feel uncomfortable, that is not harassment. That’s you feeling uncomfortable.”
When questioned on the last time he took sexual harassment training, Cuomo said he took the training in his office in Albany this year but could not immediately recall the date.
“I am very eager to tell them the other side of the story, because it is a much different story and the truth will be told and the truth is much, much different than what has been suggested,” Cuomo said. “And I’ll leave it at that for now.”
Hinton also was an aide to New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, who has insisted Cuomo resign from his post.
“He should resign,” de Blasio said last month. “I’ve been saying this for months.”
“He can’t continue to lead — the nursing home scandal, sexual harassment and assault scandal, using his staff to write his book. I mean, it just, it doesn’t end,” de Blasio continued. “He just has to go.”
Cuomo has also been politically wounded by the nursing home crisis, facing criticism after revelations that his administration concealed the full extent of nursing home-related deaths during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Cuomo has insisted he can still do his job in leading the state, even amid the scandals.
“I did nothing wrong,” Cuomo said. “I’m not resigning and I’m doing my job every day,”
Fox News’ Stephen Sorace contributed to this report.