Over the years Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) has presented herself as a champion of women's rights. And yet, she's remained largely silent about the sexual harassment allegations against Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Sure, she released a lukewarm statement about how she would support an independent investigation of the governor, but she's offered little else. The feminist movement and women everywhere are noticing.
"Wouldn’t it be great if someone who wasn’t elected five minutes ago, and maybe had some sort of, oh, I don’t know, national platform on gender discrimination decided to step “off the sidelines: speak up, be fearless, and change your world”—to quote the title of her book?" wrote Alexis Grenell in The Nation.
And yet, this "self-styled warrior for women’s rights" has said little on Cuomo's scandals. She can't even bring herself to say the governor's name.
When it comes to taking on Cuomo, though, Gillibrand can’t seem to find the courage, claiming “It’s not my job,” and failing to even mention the governor by name except to remind everyone of his due-process rights. No mention of the women either, not even to praise their “bravery,” as politicians who don’t know quite what to say typically do.
State Sen. Alessandra Biaggi, who was on the receiving end of the Cuomo administration's bullying a few years ago, shared Grenell's piece, similarly aiming to hold Gillibrand accountable.
I wrote about Gillibrand's feminist politics writ large, and as it applies to Andrew Cuomo https://t.co/J3ju83KSed— Alexis Grenell (@agrenell) March 1, 2021
Former state employee Lindsey Boylan first accused Cuomo of kissing her without permission and asking if she wanted to play "strip poker." Then his former aide Charlotte Bennett accused the governor of questioning her about her sex life. And on Monday a third woman, Anna Ruch, claimed that Cuomo asked if he could kiss her at a wedding reception.
Unlike Gillibrand, Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY) didn't mince words. Following the first accusation against Cuomo, Stefanik said that the governor is being exposed as a "criminal sexual predator."
Gov. Cuomo responded to all these allegations by releasing an "apology."
"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," he said in a statement. "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."