“Gradually, then suddenly” – What Andrew Cuomo’s Fall From Power Teaches Us About the Importance of Friends in Politics

Andrew Cuomo’s fall from grace has shocked many Americans who, during the pandemic crisis, viewed the governor as a beacon of hope and action during an otherwise unsettling time. Cuomo’s Daily Briefings drew hundreds of thousands of viewers who turned them into Emmy Award-winning briefings.

The governor confidently commanded a sense of calm as one of the most important economic cities on the planet was bombarded by the disease. Cuomo has now resigned amidst a sexual assault scandal, and the larger political potential for the three-term governor and lifetime politician has now seemingly come to an end, leaving many people to wonder how such an American icon could fall from grace so quickly.

Andrew Cuomo was destined to be a politician since day one. Son of the great New York Governor Mario Cuomo, by 20, Andrew was working as an aid for his father’s campaign. Andrew became known for his ability to move the ball on policy initiatives, earning him the title of “the dark prince.” Rocketed on a steep political trajectory by his marriage with the daughter of Robert Kennedy, Cuomo served as HUD secretary during President Bill Clinton’s second term. By 2002, Andrew Cuomo had his eye set on Governor of New York but lost out in the primaries to progressive democratic candidate Carl McCall. In 2010 Cuomo ran again, and this time was elected to his father’s position, starting him down the three-term path that would ultimately lead to his demise.

Cuomo’s political style was almost that of a dictator, running his administration through a tight inner circle that dwindled over the years as the senior staff grew tired of his intense egotism. Even within his own political party, Cuomo was not a team player, clashing with any and all outside his circle that intended to oppose him or even share the spotlight. Multiple members of the New York Assembly have described the governor as an abuser and steam roller. When the U.S.N.S Comfort, a military medical vessel, arrived in New York City during the pandemic, Cuomo undermined an effort coordinated by his office and Mayor de Blasio’s office for a joint appearance. Cuomo was seen appearing an hour early at a different pier than previously planned. Cuomo’s managerial style deprived him of any and all friends and allies, setting the stage for a negative news cycle with no defenders.

Cuomo was first accused in December of 2020 by Lindsey Boylan, a former aide to Cuomo when she posted allegations of sexual harassment on Twitter. Letitia James, New York’s attorney general, was prompted to open an independent investigation after other individuals stepped forward accusing the governor of similar behavior. An extensive report was filed from the office of the attorney general detailing numerous instances of groping and inappropriate touching. During the sexual assault investigation, the FBI launched another interrogatory investigation into Cuomo’s reporting of nursing home deaths. Although Cuomo was quick to deny any and all allegations, he retained virtually no political allies and was readily dispatched at the hands of the court of public opinion. Now, after stepping down, Cuomo faces his next challenge: the United States court of law.

Cuomo has not yet been criminally charged, and now that he has stepped down is unlikely to ever be. Criminal charges are brought by the state, not the victims of the crimes, and in this case, New York DA’s only really have unlawful touching, which carries a maximum sentence of one year. However, first offenders of this charge in New York are unlikely to ever see jail time. It is much more likely that Mr. Cuomo is sued in civil court in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This act prohibits sexual discrimination, which includes sexual harassment in the workplace.

Cuomo could also be held civilly liable for violating New York State Human Rights Law, which created stricter guidelines for sexual harassment in the workplace. Ultimately it would be up to a jury to determine damages because of a discriminatory workplace, but it’s likely that Cuomo will settle to avoid the negative trial exposure.

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