Lee Zeldin: Lieutenant Gov. Kathy Hochul ‘Empowered’ Cuomo’s ‘Disgusting Behavior’

(INSET: Andrew Cuomo and Kathy Hochul) WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 20: Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY) attends a press conference on the current conflict between Israel and the Palestinians on May 20, 2021 in Washington, DC. The Republicans voiced their support for Israel and urged the Biden Administration to do the …
Kevin Dietsch, Andrew Burton/Getty Images

Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY), who is running for governor of New York, called for new leadership to route out “systemic corruption” in the Empire State following Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s (D) Tuesday resignation over a myriad of sexual harassment and misconduct allegations.

“Andrew Cuomo’s statement today is a clear indication he is resigning to skirt all repercussions for his actions as opposed to accounting for his misconduct. He knows he would be impeached. He knows he would be voted out of office. Andrew Cuomo broke the law and criminal repercussions must follow, despite him no longer serving in public office. From his deadly nursing home order and coverup, to his $5.1 million self-congratulatory book deal and serial harassment and abuse of others, he’s been unfit to continue serving for a long period of time,” Zeldin said in a statement.

“Unfortunately, for New Yorkers, we’re left with Cuomo’s Lieutenant who empowered this disgusting behavior while Andrew Cuomo cultivated this toxic culture, leaving a trail of victims in its wake. Kathy Hochul has been silent scandal after scandal, from fatal nursing home policies and coverups to rampant harassment, intimidation, bullying and abuse,” the New York Republican continued. “In November of 2022, we must rid New York of the Cuomo-Hochul administration and its disgraceful legacy. We need new leadership in New York to end the attacks on our freedoms, our wallets and our safety, and Save Our State.”

“Every New Yorker, regardless of who they vote for, where they live or how much they make, deserves much better than this. The last three Democrat Governors have left office embroiled in scandal. Albany corruption is systemic, fundamental, and real. One-party Democrat rule enables this type of malign behavior,” he added “It’s not just about Cuomo, it’s about those who continue to preserve the status quo and have failed to learn from the mistakes of the past. Voters in New York need to take back control of how we are governed and set the standards we want for those who are given the honor of serving us.”

Earlier Tuesday, Cuomo announced he would be stepping aside from his post effective in 14 days amid the threat of impeachment by state lawmakers. The governor faced removal over a bombshell attorney general report that accused him of sexual misconduct against 11 women, a number of which were staff members at the time.

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden (L) and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo attend a rally for paid family leave on January 29, 2016 in New York City. (Andrew Burton/Getty Images)

“I think that given the circumstances, the best way I can help now is if I step aside,” Cuomo said in his first press conference since the report.

“This is one of the most challenging times for government in a generation,” the governor continued.  “Government really needs to function today, government needs to perform. It is a matter of life and death.”

“Wasting energy on distractions is the last thing [the] state government should be doing,” he added.

Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul (pictured, top right), a 62-year-old Democrat and former member of Congress from the Buffalo area, will become the state’s 57th governor and the first woman to hold the post.

“I agree with Governor Cuomo’s decision to step down. It is the right thing to do and in the best interest of New Yorkers,” Hochul tweeted.

The #MeToo-era scandal cut short not just a career but a dynasty: Cuomo’s father, Mario Cuomo, was governor in the 1980s and ’90s, and the younger Cuomo was often mentioned as a potential candidate for president, an office his father famously contemplated seeking. Even as the scandal mushroomed, Cuomo was planning to run for reelection in 2022.

Cuomo still faces the possibility of criminal charges, with a number of prosecutors around the state moving to investigate him.

The string of accusations that spelled the governor’s downfall began to unfold in news reports last December and went on for months.

Cuomo called some of the allegations fabricated, forcefully denying he touched anyone inappropriately. But he acknowledged making some aides uncomfortable with comments he said he intended as playful, and he apologized for some of his behavior.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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