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Politics and Government

Another ex-aide calls Cuomo’s office conduct inappropriate

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Governor Andrew Cuomo's office

NEW YORK (AP) — Another woman who worked for Gov. Andrew Cuomo is describing conduct she felt was inappropriate for the workplace.

Ana Liss, 35, told The Wall Street Journal in a story published Saturday that when she worked as a policy aide to the governor between 2013 and 2015, Cuomo called her “sweetheart,” once kissed her hand and asked personal questions, including whether she had a boyfriend. She said he sometimes greeted her with a hug and a kiss on both cheeks.

Liss told the Journal she initially thought of Cuomo’s behavior as harmless, but it grew to bother her. She felt it was patronizing.

“It’s not appropriate, really, in any setting,” she said. “I wish that he took me seriously.”

A spokesman for Cuomo didn’t immediately return a request for comment from The Associated Press, but told the Journal that some of the behavior Liss was describing was the kind of innocent glad-handing that politicians often do at public events.

“Reporters and photographers have covered the governor for 14 years watching him kiss men and women and posing for pictures,” said Rich Azzopardi, a senior advisor to Cuomo. “At the public open-house mansion reception, there are hundreds of people, and he poses for hundreds of pictures. That’s what people in politics do.”

Liss said she never made a formal complaint about the governor’s behavior.

Cuomo’s workplace conduct has been under intense scrutiny in recent days as several women have publicly told of feeling sexually harassed, or at least made to feel demeaned and uncomfortable by the Democrat.

Former adviser Lindsey Boylan, 36, said he made inappropriate comments on her appearance, once kissed her on the lips at the end of a meeting and suggested a game of strip poker as they sat with other aides on a jet flight. Another former aide, Charlotte Bennett, 25, said Cuomo asked if she ever had sex with older men and made other comments she interpreted as gauging her interest in an affair.

Another woman, who did not work for the state, described Cuomo putting his hands on her face and asking if he could kiss her after they met at a wedding.

In a news conference Wednesday, Cuomo denied ever touching anyone inappropriately, but apologized for behaving in a way that he now realized had upset women he worked with. He said he’d made jokes and asked personal questions in an attempt to be playful and frequently greeted people with hugs and kisses, as his father, Mario Cuomo, had done when he was governor.

“I understand sensitivities have changed. Behavior has changed,” Cuomo said. “I get it and I’m going to learn from it.”

The state’s attorney general plans to hire an outside law firm to investigate the sexual harassment allegations. Some lawmakers have called for Cuomo to resign over his workplace behavior, and separate allegations that his administration misled the public about coronavirus fatalities in nursing homes.