Multiple Democrats in the state Legislature on Wednesday called for an investigation after a former aide and current Manhattan borough president candidate Lindsey Boylan alleged Gov. Andrew Cuomo sexually harassed her while she was working in his administration.
Cuomo's office has denied the allegations and in a joint statement former aides said a specific incident on a plane did not occur.
Still, the governor's fellow Democrats said the claims -- including one incident in which Boylan wrote Cuomo gave her an unwated kiss in his New York City office -- warrant further review.
“I am deeply disturbed by the allegations made by a former aide to the governor, accusing him of sexual harassment," said Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara. "These are serious allegations. I’m calling for an immediate investigation into the governor’s workplace behavior. Sexual harassment of any kind cannot be tolerated.”
Among the complications of investigating any sexual harassment claim is the Joint Commission on Public Ethics, a watchdog panel that includes appointees of the governor. JCOPE has reviewed allegations against several elected officials in the past, including Assemblyman Vito Lopez.
"I have proposed what I believe to be the most effective, long-term solution: passage of my constitutional amendment to create an independent investigative body for these purposes," said Sen. Liz Krueger. "Absent that, we may be forced to depend on JCOPE, where the governor's appointees will need to be excluded from voting against an investigation."
Assemblywoman Pat Fahy in an interview said Attorney General Letitia James's office is an option given the independence concerns at JCOPE.
"It needs some type of serious investigation," Fahy said. "I recognize even that word can be a tough one because of the accusations of what's independent and what's not. This is not meant as any disrespect toward anyone, but I want to make sure women are taken seriously."