BY LINCOLN ANDERSON | Updated Aug. 11, 10 p.m.: Local politicians kicked scandal-scarred Andrew Cuomo on his way out the door Tuesday as he resigned. Some went further, though, declaring the governor still must be impeached and prevented from ever holding office again or collecting a government pension.
Assemblymember Yuh-Line Niou, in a hard-hitting statement, said Cuomo, even in resigning, had continued to “gaslight” the nearly a dozen women who have accused him of sexual harassment. The assemblymember said that while resignation is “a long overdue first step,” impeachment is now also necessary in order to change “the policies and culture that made this serial abuse possible” — plus to keep Cuomo from collecting a penny of pension.
Charging that Cuomo’s “misuse of his office extends far beyond the women he victimized,” Niou referenced how the governor allegedly had his staff work on his book about his leadership confronting the pandemic and how he concealed the number of COVID-related nursing home deaths from the state Legislature.
My statement on the resignation of Governor Andrew Cuomo. pic.twitter.com/2DllRU6nja
— Yuh-Line Niou (@yuhline) August 10, 2021
However, the New York Post, in an article on Wednesday, said that impeachment actually would not bar Cuomo from collecting an estimated $51,000-a-year pension.
“Currently, a public official could have his or her pension reduced or revoked if convicted of a felony under the Public Integrity Reform Act approved by Cuomo in 2011, his first year as governor,” the Post reported. “But resignation for wrongdoing or impeachment does not trigger a clawback of a public official’s pension.”
Like Niou, Assemblymember Harvey Epstein also backs impeachment.
“The power of survivors speaking the truth is on display today,” Epstein said in a statement. “I remain in awe of these women and applaud them for their bravery. It’s abundantly clear that Andrew Cuomo must never be allowed to hold office again. The Legislature has the power to ensure that, and we must use it. As we enter an unprecedented period in our state’s history, I look forward to working with Governor Hochul and passing progressive legislation.”
Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul is poised to assume the governorship after Cuomo steps down in 14 days, as he announced would.
State Senator Brad Hoylman hoped for better “cooperation and collaboration” with the executive branch under Hochul.
“I’m grateful that this sad chapter in New York’s history is coming to an end, thanks to the inspirational courage of the women who came forward to share their stories in the attorney general’s report,” Hoylman said. “I look forward to working with incoming Governor Kathy Hochul to address the severe problems facing our state, including the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on New York’s most vulnerable. It’s my sincere hope that a change in leadership in Albany will mark a new era of cooperation and collaboration between the Legislature and the governor for the betterment of all New Yorkers.”
Similarly, City Council Speaker Corey Johnson looked forward to “better days ahead” with Hochul at the helm.
“Governor Cuomo abused his power and disgraced his office,” Johnson said. “His resignation signals a new chapter for our state. This Council is eager to support Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul, who will become the first woman governor of New York. It is regretful that this historic milestone was achieved under these tragic circumstances, but we are confident that her years of experience serving New Yorkers will help lead us to better days ahead.
“I once again thank Attorney General Letitia James, as well as her team, for the independent report,” Johnson said. “And I commend the women who came forward to share their stories.”
Albany veteran Assemblymember Deborah Glick, in a tweet, acknowledged that Cuomo “did many good things — many progressive things.” However, she backed his resignation, saying that the governor — who was also known for his vindictiveness and for “ruling by fear” — had created a “toxic workplace.”
— (((Deborah Glick))) (@DeborahJGlick) August 10, 2021
Mayor Bill de Blasio often found himself on the end of losing battles with Cuomo. The governor relished one-upping the mayor on myriad issues affecting the city, from homelessness and mass transit to their handling of the pandemic. But in his statement Tuesday on the governor’s stepping down, de Blasio kept it brief.
“Make no mistake, this is the result of survivors bravely telling their stories,” Hizzoner said. “It was past time for Andrew Cuomo to resign and it’s for the good of all New York.”
Arthur Schwartz, a Greenwich Village Democratic district leader, held key positions on the campaigns of two upstarts, Zephyr Teachout and Cynthia Nixon, who challenged Cuomo in primary elections in the last six years.
“It is a relief that Andrew Cuomo has resigned,” Schwartz said. “For 11 years he ran this state as a bully, usually ignoring the Legislature, punishing those who criticized him, holding back billions in school funding, championing hospital closings and consolidations, resisting needed taxes on the ultra-wealthy and corporations while they donated millions to his campaigns, and treating the state Democratic Party as his fiefdom.
“I am proud to have been Zephyr Teachout’s treasurer when she ran against him in 2014, and Cynthia Nixon’s lawyer when she ran against him in 2018,” Schwartz added. “His much self-aggrandizing performance in 2020 did little to prevent death of the elderly, aid businesses and protect tenants. He will not be missed. And New York will see an amazing transformation in the Democratic Party next year.”