What is the future of the Empire State?

Cuomo Under Fire

Gov. Andrew Cuomo during a news conference in New York on Sept. 14, 2018. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File)

Gov. Cuomo resigned from office Tuesday, transferring his powers to Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul.

(WETM) – A series of events led to a stunning statement from Gov. Cuomo. Just seven days ago, the New York Attorney General released a report outlining substantial evidence for the sexual assault claims from 11 women.

The allegations were first alleged on December 13 when former aide Lindsey Boylan accused Gov. Cuomo of kissing her against her will. In February, a second staffer came forward. Charlotte Bennett accused the Governor of asking her invasive questions. On March 1, a third accuser came forward to the New York Times. Anna Ruch accused Gov. Cuomo of inappropriate behavior at a wedding. The same day, his office authorized an investigation by the Attorney General’s Office into his actions. Anna Liss became the fourth woman to come forward later that month saying the Governor touched her lower back, called her sweetheart, asked if she had a boyfriend, and kissed her hand when she rose from her desk. The fifth accuser Karen Hinton said the Governor hugged her in an inappropriate and unethical embrace 21 years ago. The sixth accuser came forward, but their identity was withheld. Sherry Vill said the Governor forcibly grabbed her by the face and kissed her on the cheek two times during the same visit.

“The best way I can help now is if I step aside and let government get back to governing. My resignation will be effective in 14 days,” Gov. Cuomo said in a press conference Tuesday.

The leader of the Empire State was once the praised leader amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, he is ending his tenure on a sour note. Gov. Cuomo said he is a fighter and these allegations are flawed, but he thanks the women for coming forward. He took full responsibility for making them feel uncomfortable.

“Wasting energy on distractions is the last thing state government should be doing and I cannot be the cause of that.”

Gov. Andrew Cuomo

Attorney General Letitia James released her investigation last week. The 165-page report outlined substantial evidence for the sexual harassment allegations, but she will not be pursuing a criminal investigation. District attorneys from five counties are requesting information from James for potential criminal proceedings. Albany, Westchester, Oswego, Manhattan, and Nassau counties will be investigating.

Earlier this week, top aide Melissa DeRosa resigned saying the past two years were mentally and emotionally taxing for her. Monday, Roberta Kaplan also resigned. She was legal counsel to Gov. Cuomo and a board member for ‘Time’s Up’.

Gov. Cuomo’s resignation is effective in 14 days and Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul will step in. She will be the 57th leader of the Empire State and the first woman to hold the office.

“I would advise her to hit the ground running with her own personal style and stance on state government,” Michael Dawidziak, political consultant, told 18 News.

Scandals have overshadowed Albany for more than a decade. In 2008, Gov. Eliot Spitzer resigned amid a prostitution scandal. His successor, Dave Paterson, did not seek reelection in 2010 because of alleged witness tampering and soliciting an unlawful gift.

It is unclear the status of the other major investigations into Gov. Cuomo, which include the COVID-19 nursing home scandal and the multi-million dollar book deal. Experts are also unsure if impeachment proceedings can continue.

“We don’t know. We actually have state lawmakers huddling with attorneys as we speak,” Dawidziak continued.

The future of New York now lies in Hochul’s hands. She is the first Governor from Upstate New York in nearly a century. This could provide a new opportunity in Upstate politics.

“Tensions and the struggle between upstate and downstate New York have been such a central feature of the state’s politics for really a number of decades now, here all of a sudden you have a governor who’s from upstate, and how does that change that dynamic,” Professor Grant Reeher, director of the Campbell Public Affairs Institute at Syracuse University, concluded.

Lt. Gov. Hochul is slated to address the media and New Yorkers Wednesday, August 11 at 2 p.m.

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