New York Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo responded on Sunday to mounting accusations against him of sexual harassment and misconduct. According to the governor, the women who have stepped forward are "misinterpreting" the governor's alleged advances as something else.
"At work sometimes I think I am being playful and make jokes that I think are funny," the governor said in a statement. "I do, on occasion, tease people in what I think is a good natured way. I do it in public and in private."
The latest accuser, a 25-year-old former staffer, is accusing Cuomo of sexually harassing her last spring when she was alone with the governor in his office. The woman, Charlotte Bennett, says Cuomo asked her inappropriate sexual questions, like whether she was monogamous in her relationships and willing to have sex with older men. The alleged incident took place on June 5, around the same time the liberal media was fawning over the governor and dismissing reports about the governor's deadly nursing home policy.
"I have teased people about their personal lives, their relationships, about getting married or not getting married. I mean no offense and only attempt to add some levity and banter to what is a very serious business," the governor claimed.
But the allegations against Cuomo go beyond teasing. Another former staffer, Lindsey Boylan, claims the governor kissed her on the lips and asked her to play "strip poker" with him. Boylan also claimed the governor made repeated references to Monica Lewinksy and Bill Clinton's sexual relationship and ridiculed other staffers in the office about their relationships and significant others.
"I now understand that my interactions may have been insensitive or too personal and that some of my comments, given my position, made others feel in ways I never intended," Cuomo added. "I acknowledge some of the things I have said have been misinterpreted as an unwanted flirtation. To the extent anyone felt that way, I am truly sorry about that."
Cuomo denied ever inappropriately touching or propositioning anybody and said that he never meant to make anyone feel uncomfortable. The governor said he has asked for an outside investigation into the allegations.
Cuomo came under fire earlier for attempting to appoint an "investigator" with known ties to one of Cuomo's top advisers.
Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY) called the governor a "sexual predator" and demanded his resignation. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have called for an independent investigation.