ALBANY — State Sen. Rob Ortt is calling on Gov. Andrew Cuomo to step down as the latter’s sexual harassment woes become deeper.
“You have a governor now who has two investigations from two separate agencies on two distinct and very troubling issues,” Ortt, R-North Tonawanda said, in a Monday news conference. “One potentially criminal investigation from the Department of Justice into covering up nursing home deaths, to why it was done and how it was done. Then you have an investigation from the attorney general into two sexual harassment allegations.”
Ortt is the State Senate’s minority leader. He said there have been two credible sexual harassment allegations against Cuomo since it adjourned last week.
He said the two women who have come forward have shown more courage than Democrats who have been elected to serve their constituents in Albany. Cuomo acknowledged in a statement late Sunday afternoon that some of the things he has said to women may have been “misinterpreted as an unwanted flirtation.”
Ortt said Cuomo has had unchecked power through a global pandemic and the state legislature has not been able to rescind the governor’s expanded emergency powers, and Monday will be the 18th opportunity to do just that.
Ortt described the Albany workplace environment as “hostile” saying politicos in the state have known of the threats and bullying of the current administration — it just was never widely reported. He alleged it was whispered and talked about, but never reported prior.
Ortt said as more people become less afraid of Cuomo, more stories will appear.
With these two current investigations, Ortt said they will monopolize a lot of resources and time and calls into question how Cuomo can do the job he was elected to do and guide the state through the fiscal and economic crisis as well as the ongoing pandemic.
“Now this isn’t a political decision for me. I thought about this long and hard,” Ortt said, pointing out Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul, another Democrat, would be the one to become governor if Cuomo was to step down. “This is about what is the right thing for New Yorkers.”
He said the right thing is for Cuomo’s powers to be rescinded, the investigations to go forward and for the governor to step aside.
During the question and answer session, reporters pressed Ortt on potential hypocrisy of him not calling on the former President Donald Trump’s resignation when women came forward with allegations of sexual assault.
Ortt said he’s a state senator, and he has an obligation to condemn sexual misconduct on a state level. He said if he was a member of the U.S. Senate or Congress, it would be a much fairer question as far as the execution of his duties.
“I don’t think I’ve ever defended the president on (the issue of sexual assault),” Ortt said, adding when he ran for Congress he supported the former president’s agenda.
He continued saying within a few months of Trump being out of office Gov. Cuomo is engulfed in scandals because he believes people are taking a closer look at his handling of the pandemic and personal conduct and behavior.