Former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s (D) sister was behind a cruel campaign to smear the women who accused the governor of sexual harassment in 2021, the New York Times reported.
Cuomo resigned in disgrace in August 2021 after New York Attorney General Letitia James determined he sexually harassed close to a dozen women, including some of his former aides.
On Monday, the New York Times revealed that Cuomo’s sister, Madeline Cuomo, was at the center of a campaign to slut-shame his accusers. Ms. Cuomo secretly communicated with members and leaders of a group called We Decide New York, an organization primarily made of women who defended Cuomo in 2021 when the accusations first surfaced.
These women used aggressive tactics to target Cuomo’s accusers allegedly at Ms. Cuomo’s behest, starting in the spring of 2021 and extending until as recent as last September.
“Your life will be dissected like a frog in a HS science class. And you’re the amphibian – the public, media, and the defense are the students. There’s so much to learn about you, and if this goes to trial we will know your every secret. I promise. Darlin,’” We Decide New York member Anna Vavare tweeted at Charlotte Bennett, one of Cuomo’s former aides.
Your life will be dissected like a frog in a HS science class.
And you're the amphibian – the public, media, and the defense are the students. There's so much to learn about you, and if this goes to trial we will know your every secret. I promise. Darlin' https://t.co/JEUxV6ROT3
— Annalogue75 ✨ (@AnnaLogue75) September 15, 2022
The New York Times reviewed more than 4,000 text messages, emails, and voice memos between Ms. Cuomo and leaders of We Decide New York and confirmed that the post, among others, was directed by Ms. Cuomo.
Ms. Cuomo instructed the group to post “photos of Charlotte In her sex kitten straddle,” alongside more “austere, professional” shots of loyal Cuomo aides.
“No respectable woman would EVER pose like that,” Ms. Cuomo said. She called out the “Bimbo photos,” the aide was pictured in.
“Really despicable,” she said, adding, “Unsophisticated girls.”
We Decide New York president Sandy Behan told the Times that the former governor’s sister was “demanding.”
“Madeline was demanding. She wanted to make sure we toed the line, and we did,” she said. “This was a means for her to get information out to benefit her brother. She didn’t want to be my girlfriend — she was using us.”
The report did not reveal how much the former governor knew about his sister’s campaign, but Ms. Cuomo repeatedly told her cronies she was keeping her brother updated.
“Good Morning Just spoke and he thinks a distraction could be helpful today,” Ms. Cuomo wrote in the messages reviewed by the Times.
“I just hung up w A again and he wants you both to know how much he appreciates ALL your hard work, and your willingness to get this out today on LABOR DAY of all days,” she texted a group chat in September 2022. “You ladies share the same work ethic. I believe we were all raised quite similarly which accounts for our like-minded sensibilities.”
“Tell him I couldn’t think of a better way to spend the holiday. We are there for your always whatever you need,” Behan responded.
“We all wish we didn’t have to go negative ever but it’s clear they’re never going to stop and leave us alone to do GOOD WORK until THEIR truth is exposed,” the governor’s sister said.
Ms. Cuomo was reportedly “adamant their role be hidden,” repeatedly asking her associates to delete messages, the Times reported. She also told the women to deny any affiliation with the Cuomo family when the Times reached out for an earlier report, Behan told the outlet.
In a Monday statement, Ms. Cuomo defended her involvement with the group, saying she was “protecting my family.”
“I acted on my own with the women of WDNY, without his involvement in any way,” she said.
Hours after the Times report went live, the governor’s sister said she only invoked her brother’s name to the women so they “felt their efforts were appreciated.”
A spokesperson for the former governor denied any affiliation with the group.
“The governor does not personally have nor does he follow social media accounts, and he was not directly or indirectly involved in these online efforts,” Rich Azzopardi told the Times. “When he’s had something to say, he has not held back from doing so publicly.”