New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s staff got help from prominent liberal advocates as they tried to discredit the first woman to accuse Cuomo of sexual harassment, The Washington Post reports.
A report from New York Attorney General Letitia James detailing allegations of sexual harassment or misconduct from 11 women also revealed an effort by Cuomo’s team to discredit former adviser Lindsay Boylan, the first woman to publicly accuse the governor.
James’ report said that the administration leaked Boylan’s private employee records and circulated a draft of a letter that undercut her credibility, calling it “unlawful retaliation.”
Boylan’s attorney told The New York Times that she now plans to sue the governor.
“Because Lindsey was first, the governor needed to send a message,” said attorney Jill Basinger. “He needed to send a message to every other survivor out there that this is what happens when you go against the machine of the governor’s office.”
Time’s Up official helped with letter:
Attorney Roberta Kaplan, the co-founder of the Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund, and Time’s Up President Tina Tchen discussed a request from top Cuomo aide Melissa DeRosa to advise on a letter intended to push back on Boylan by attacking her motivations.
DeRosa told investigators that Kaplan was “fine” with the letter with some changes.
“While it turns out the response was never published, I made it very clear that any response should never shame an accuser,” Kaplan said in a statement to the Post. “Given the revelations in the New York Attorney General report, I support and agree with Time’s Up that Governor Cuomo should resign.”
Tchen said she did not recall the conversation but said she was confident she would have pushed back on any attempt to discredit Boylan.
“You cannot make any attempt to attack or discredit a person who has come forward with allegations,” Tchen said. “Had those parts existed in what was read to me, I would have said, ‘Do not say that.’ ”
Human Rights Campaign president helped too:
Alphonso David, the president of the Human Rights Campaign, also suggested changes to the letter, which was later leaked to reporters.
David made an effort to collect signatures for the letter even as he told Cuomo’s team that he would not sign it. He also provided Cuomo advisers with an internal memo about Boylan that he kept from his time as a lawyer in the governor’s office.
David told the Post that he was unaware of the extent of the allegations against Cuomo.
“Absent all the facts, I chose not to sign,” David said. “The facts as outlined in the report are devastating. Seeking our engagement without disclosing all of the relevant facts about any and all survivors is reprehensible.”