A top Democrat in the state Senate on Monday questioned whether Gov. Andrew Cuomo can continue to govern amid allegations he sexually harassed two former aides.
The allegations raised by Lindsey Boylan and Charlotte Bennett are expected to be formally referred by the governor's office to Attorney General Letitia James for a formal investigation by an independent counsel.
Gianaris, the deputy majority leader in the state Senate, who has been at odds with Cuomo over the years, said in an interview on NY1 Monday morning the allegations are "very troubling."
"We’ll wait for the report but I do believe that something needs to be done ultimately and whether or not the governor can continue is an open question," Gianaris said in the interview, noting the state budget is expected to pass in less than a month.
Boylan has accused Cuomo of an unwanted kiss, an allegation the governor denies. Bennett has accused Cuomo of making inappropriate remarks that she believed were efforts to proposition her for sex. Cuomo in a statement denied he ever sought to proposition anyone, but acknowledged office "banter" and apologized to anyone who was made uncomfortable as a result.
But Gianaris said the statement from Cuomo was lacking.
"There's a big difference between 'I'm sorry if you were offended by what I did,' and 'I'm sorry for what I did,'" Gianaris said. "His was more of the first and less of the latter. And what he's doing is shifting the blame onto the survivors. He's saying based on how they somehow misinterpreted his actions they were at fault for not appreciating what he was trying to convey to them."
"We’ll wait for the report but I do believe that something needs to be done ultimately and whether or not the governor can continue is an open question.”