Two female aides have departed New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s (D) administration as the embattled governor reels from twin scandals sparked by his handling of coronavirus death data regarding his state’s nursing homes and allegations of sexual harassment.
Bloomberg News reported Friday:
Press secretary Caitlin Girouard and interim policy adviser Erin Hammond have left, the administration said on Friday. […] Girouard, who departed on Friday, had issued the statement last month denying sexual-harassment allegations of Cuomo’s first accuser, former economic aide Lindsay Boylan. She said Boylan’s claims were “quite simply false” in a statement issued on Feb. 24.
“Caitlin is a world-class, top-flight communications professional who is well respected in New York, Washington, and beyond,” Cuomo communications director Peter Ajemian said in a statement. “She’s been a real rock for our press shop, especially during the past year fighting the pandemic, and we wish her nothing but the best in her next chapter.”
Rich Azzopardi, a spokesman for Cuomo, said Hammond had planned to leave her post months ago.
“Her departure allows her to focus on her family,” Azzopardi said.
The development comes one day after the New York Times and Wall Street Journal reported that top Cuomo aides pressed state health officials to revise a July report to solely count nursing home residents who died in long-term care facilities. Melissa DeRosa, secretary to the governor, is said to have been involved in the matter. DeRosa also admitted that staffers withheld the number of coronavirus deaths in the state’s nursing homes to shield the Cuomo administration from a federal investigation, according to the New York Post.
It’s the latest blow for Cuomo, who’s been besieged by a one-two punch of scandals involving his handling of nursing home deaths and accusations that he sexually harassed two former aides and a woman that he met at a wedding he officiated.
Cuomo had apologized Wednesday for acting “in a way that made people feel uncomfortable” but rejected calls for his resignation and said he would fully cooperate with the state attorney general’s investigation into the sexual harassment allegations. Federal investigators are scrutinizing his administration’s handling of nursing home data.
Top Democrats in the state have said they want those investigations to conclude before they make a judgment about Cuomo’s conduct, but in the wake of Thursday night’s report, a few state lawmakers renewed calls for the governor to either resign or be ousted.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.