Andrew Cuomo is resigning as governor of New York.
Cuomo announced his resignation Tuesday, a week after a report came out from the state attorney general’s office finding he had sexually harassed 11 women and unlawfully retaliated against at least one.
His resignation will take effect in 14 days, and Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul will become governor. She will be New York’s first woman governor.
“The best way I can help now is if I step aside and let government get back to government and therefore, that’s what I’ll do,” Cuomo said. He said his instinct was to fight through, as he has pushed back against accusations of harassment, but if he stayed on, there would be “months of political controversy” that would “consume government” and “cost taxpayers millions of dollars.” It’s likely that he would have been impeached, and legislators still may bring impeachment proceedings.
He took a tentative step toward acknowledging that his conduct was problematic. He said he takes “full responsibility for my actions” and has “been too familiar with people.” The accusations include many instances of unwanted touching.
“I have done it all my life,” he said of the so-called familiarity. “It’s who I have been since I can remember. In my mind, I have never crossed the line with anyone, but I didn’t realize the extent to which the line has been redrawn. There are generational and cultural shifts that I just didn’t fully appreciate — and I should have. No excuses.”
Cuomo has been known throughout his career as an ally of LGBTQ+ people, but the investigation into sexual harassment allegations has implicated two major LGBTQ+ leaders — Human Rights Campaign President Alphonso David and attorney Roberta Kaplan, famed for arguing the case that brought down the Defense of Marriage Act. Both were involved in his response to the accusations.
David had been Cuomo’s in-house counsel before joining HRC in 2019 and was called in to assist with the response after the first accuser went public last December. Kaplan was consulted in her role with Time’s Up, which advocates for survivors of sexual assault and harassment. HRC has hired a law firm to investigate and evaluate David’s role, and Kaplan has resigned as cochair of the Time’s Up board of directors.
Cuomo, a Democrat, signed marriage equality into law in 2011, his first year as governor. In 2019, he signed the Gender Non-Discrimination Act, banning discrimination based on gender identity, and a bill banning the use of conversion therapy on minors. He has expressed support for his daughter Michaela Kennedy Cuomo, who came out as demisexual this year.
He faced a primary challenge in 2018 from an out candidate, Cynthia Nixon, an activist as well as an actress best known for Sex and the City. Nixon attracted a fierce liberal following and pulled Cuomo, a moderate, to the left on some issues, but he ended up winning the primary with two-thirds of the vote.
“Today closes a sad chapter for all of New York, but it’s an important step towards justice,” Attorney General Letitia James said in a prepared statement. “I thank Governor Cuomo for his contributions to our state. The ascension of our Lieutenant Governor, Kathy Hochul, will help New York enter a new day. We must continue to build on the progress already made and improve the lives of New Yorkers in every corner of the state. I know our state is in good hands with Lieutenant Governor Hochul at the helm, and I look forward to continuing to work with her.”
The resignation announcement came shortly after the publication of a New Yorker story by out journalist Ronan Farrow, detailing how Cuomo had pressured and sought to undermine political rivals, including some on the team that investigated him for the attorney general's office. “He’s always figuring out ways to discredit the investigation, to discredit the accusers,” Preet Bharara, a former federal prosecutor, told Farrow. “The real story is Andrew Cuomo cannot tolerate being investigated, by anyone.” Farrow tweeted the following about Cuomo's resignation:
State Sen. Brad Hoylman, who is gay, tweeted this statement:
LGBTQ+ activist Charlotte Clymer had this to say: