By JOE MAHONEY
CNHI State Reporter
ALBANY — After weeks of being under a cloud of scandal stemming from sexual harassment allegations, Gov. Andrew Cuomo today announced he is resigning from office.
The resignation will take effect in 14 days, Cuomo said.
Cuomo said he was inclined to fight the allegations to clear his name but decided that such a process would cost millions of dollars and create such a distraction that it would be detrimental to the state.
"Government operations and wasting money on distractions is the last thing that government should be doing," Cuomo said. "I cannot be the cause of that."
The move sets the stage for Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul, a Buffalo native and former congresswoman, to succeed the 63-year-old Cuomo as New York's next chief executive.
Cuomo called the attorney general's investigation that resulted in a scathing report, corroborating the harassment claims by 11 women, "politically motivagted."
"The most serious allegations against me had no credible factual basis," Cuomo said.
He said he was "joking" when he made flattering remarks to women and said his "sense of humor can be off-putting."
"In my mind, I have never crossed the line with anyone," he said. "But I didn't realize the extent to which the line had been drawn."
He said he did not realize he had offended a female trooper, assigned to his security detail, who alleged he improperly touched her while she was on duty
He said his interactions with the trooper amounted to "banter."
"I made some jokes about the negative aspects of married life," Cuomo said, noting the trooper was engaged. "She was offended."
"I want to personally apologize to her and her family," Cuomo said.
"You taught me an important lesson," Cuomo said of the women who brought complaints against him,
Cuomo's top aide, Melissa DeRosa, announced her resignation Sunday night.
Cuomo's announcement came after his private attorney, Rita Glavin, offered a point-by-point denial of the specific harassment allegations made against Cuomo by several female aides, including 33-year-old Brittany Commisso of Albany, who maintained the governor groped her breast and rubbed her rear-end for five seconds when she was at the Executive Mansion, the governor's residence, last November.
"The governor did not violate Brittany Comisso," Glavin said in a live-stream announcement just prior to Cuomo's announcement. "He did not rub her rear end."
Cuomo had indicated this year he was planning to seek a fourth term as governor in 2022. Campaign finance records released last month showed he has more than $18 million on hand. Cuomo has been paying his legal defense bills with his campaign money, which is allowable under state laws governing such funds.
Glavin said the state attorney general investigation "disregarded the positive" about Cuomo and contended that since the report was released he has been the victim of a "media frenzy."
Glavin said the lawyers Attorney General Letitia James recruited to run the investigation, Joon Kim and Anne Clarke, ran a review that was unfair to Cuomo and was designed to "devastate '' him and the executive chamber.
"This hasn't been and it's not going to be a fair process," Glavin said.
Cuomo, the son of the late Gov. Mario Cuomo, took the reins of state government in January 2011 after serving as state attorney general for one term. He had previously been the U.S. Secretary for Housing and Urban Development in the administration of former President Bill Clinton.
Cuomo and his former wife, Kerry Kennedy, the daughter of slain U.S. Senator Robert F. Kennedy, are the parents of three adult daughters.
Cuomo is also facing a federal investigation dealing with the $5 million book deal with Crown Publishing, recalling the "leadership lessons" that he says he provided to the nation when the COVID-19 pandemic reached New York in March 2020. That probe is reportedly weighing the alleged undercount of New York nursing home deaths caused by the contagion.
This story will be updated later.