Officials, lawmakers react to Cuomo’s resignation

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — Politicians and other leaders from across New York state are weighing in on Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s resignation.

The three-term Democratic governor’s decision, which will take effect in two weeks, was announced as momentum built in the Legislature to remove him by impeachment. It came after New York’s attorney general released the results of an investigation that found Cuomo sexually harassed at least 11 women.

Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul, 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.

News10NBC will continue updating this story as more reaction comes in.

Attorney Debra Katz, representing Charlotte Bennett, released the following statement:

“Today is a solemn day. One week after the Attorney General released a detailed report substantiating 11 women’s allegations of sexual harassment and sexual assault against Governor Cuomo, he had no choice but to resign.

The Governor’s decision to resign is a testament to the growing power of women’s voices since the beginning of the #MeToo movement. It underscores that sexual harassment is no longer acceptable—no matter what office the harasser holds. When Lindsey Boylan first publicly accused Governor Cuomo of sexually harassing her, the Governor’s well-oiled political machine worked overtime to discredit her. Our client, Charlotte Bennett, was not willing to sit idly by while the Governor smeared Lindsey in the press. She knew that Lindsey was telling the truth because the Governor also sexually harassed her. Charlotte made the courageous decision to detail her own allegations to the public and to share her voluminous documentary evidence with investigators. Her contemporaneous text messages and emails and her sworn testimony demonstrated incontrovertibly that the Governor sexually harassed her at work. As is often the case, courage begets courage. Soon, other women came forward to support Lindsey and Charlotte in the face of the Governor’s continuing denials, even as evidence mounted against him.

We are humbled by Charlotte’s and the other complainants’ remarkable courage in coming forward. They made that extraordinary personal and professional sacrifice because they knew what it was like to have careers derailed and relationships destroyed by a single powerful individual. They knew the pain and indignity of being sexually propositioned and groped. And critically, they wanted to make sure no other women endured the same.

The investigators in this case conducted a comprehensive investigation under intense public scrutiny. They put witnesses at ease to ensure that the public would have the benefit of everyone’s evidence, and they compiled an extremely thorough and detailed report. Their process truly was a model for how high-stakes investigations should proceed. We are deeply appreciative of their unimpeachable work. And we are sickened by the Governor’s baseless attacks against them.

The Governor’s decision to resign is not the end of our reckoning with sexual harassment, but it is an important step in the right direction.”

Hochul issued the following statement:

"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.

As someone who has served at all levels of government and is next in the line of succession, I am prepared to lead as New York State’s 57th Governor."

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer:

"First, I want to commend the brave women who stepped forward and courageously told their stories. There is no place for sexual harassment, and today’s announcement by Governor Cuomo to resign was the right decision for the good of the people of New York. I have full confidence that Lt Governor Hochul will establish a professional and capable administration. I have spoken with Lt Governor Hochul and look forward to working together to help the people of New York."

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie released the following statement:

"This has been a tragic chapter in our state’s history. Governor Cuomo’s resignation is the right decision. The brave women who stepped forward were heard. Everyone deserves to work in a harassment free environment. I have spoken with Lieutenant Governor Hochul and I look forward to working with her."

New York Attorney General Letitia James:

“Today closes a sad chapter for all of New York, but it’s an important step towards justice. I thank Governor Cuomo for his contributions to our state. The ascension of our Lieutenant Governor, Kathy Hochul, will help New York enter a new day. We must continue to build on the progress already made and improve the lives of New Yorkers in every corner of the state. I know our state is in good hands with Lieutenant Governor Hochul at the helm, and I look forward to continuing to work with her.”

U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand:

“First and foremost, I want to thank the incredibly courageous women who came forward and shared their stories. They are the true public servants here. New York now has a chance to move forward and build a new culture of leadership. Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul is an exceptional public servant and will be an excellent governor. I look forward to working together to continue serving the people of our great state.”

Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce CEO and former Lt. Gov. Bob Duffy:

“An expectation of leadership is to take responsibility for one’s actions. Resignation is a personal decision, and I agree with Governor Cuomo’s decision to resign. This decision will hopefully prevent further trauma for the courageous women who came forward and it allows the State government to get on with the business of serving New Yorkers.

I offer my full support to incoming Governor Kathy Hochul. Kathy is a friend, a colleague, and a remarkable representative of the people of the State of New York. She will serve in the same way she has for her entire career in public service: with honor, tenacity, compassion, and dignity.”

Assemblymember Harry Bronson:

"I thank the women who courageously came forward. We believed them and took steps to hold the Governor accountable for his abuse and harassment. The Governor’s resignation is a necessary first step for New York to start healing. This will allow our state to move forward on the urgent issues that are major concerns for our families; the Delta variant, getting our children back in the classroom, and ensuring our families are able to get back to work in a healthy and safe environment.

I look forward to working with Lt. Governor Kathy Hochul, who I know is a consummate professional capable of leading our state out of this crisis. As our first woman Governor and someone from upstate New York, I am confident our families will be well served under her leadership."

New York State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli:

“The Governor has done the right thing. New York is facing many challenges as we battle the ongoing impact of COVID-19. My team and I stand ready to assist incoming Governor Hochul as we move the state forward.”

Rep. Joe Morelle:

“It is in the best interest of all New Yorkers that the Governor has resigned. These are unprecedented times and it is incumbent on all of us to remain united in our commitment to tackling the challenges we face and moving New York State forward.

“I look forward to working alongside Governor Kathy Hochul to deliver the support families need and deserve as we continue to recover from the pandemic.”

Rep. John Katko:

“I commend the women who bravely spoke out against Governor Cuomo’s disturbing pattern of sexual harassment, abuse and retaliation. The Governor’s resignation is long overdue. Still, it does not adequately hold him accountable for his actions. Governor Cuomo abused his office and broke the law. I am glad that law enforcement in New York State continue to investigate the Governor’s actions. Criminal prosecution must remain on the table.

New Yorkers continue to struggle with the lasting impacts of the ongoing pandemic. Officials in State Government, led by incoming Governor Kathy Hochul, must now focus on leading our pandemic recovery while addressing the deep-rooted corruption and abuse that has endured in Albany for far too long.”

Assemblywoman Marjorie Byrnes:

"As a member of the Assembly Judiciary Committee, I have been unable to speak on the ongoing investigation into Gov. Cuomo as freely as, perhaps, I would have liked. However, now that Gov. Cuomo has offered his resignation, I can say that I believe this was inevitable and will help our state move forward from this tumultuous time. There are serious challenges ahead of us, and I welcome the opportunity to work more closely with our new governor, Kathy Hochul – our state’s first woman to hold this office."

Assemblywoman Sarah Clark:

"Today’s announcement from Governor Cuomo is welcome and long overdue; however, make no mistake, this is merely a first step towards accountability. Investigations continue at the local, state, and federal level into the Governor’s actions on various fronts. And as we await next steps with the Assembly Judiciary investigation, impeachment should still seriously be considered given the severity of all the charges facing him.

"There is also much long-term work to be done to ensure this never happens again in the Executive Chamber, or any other workplace. I stand ready with my colleagues in the state legislature to ensure safe, harassment-free work spaces for all. To the courageous survivors who risked so much to share your stories, thank you for your bravery. You are the catalyst of change we needed, and I could not be more grateful.

"After months of scandal surrounding the Governor’s actions that have distracted us all from building back better in this pandemic, we can embark on a new era of governance in 14 days. In the state legislature, our focus must shift back from scandals to the critical work to be done on behalf of struggling New Yorkers statewide. I have every confidence in our recovery under the leadership of soon-to-be Governor Kathy Hochul. I’ve worked with the Lieutenant Governor for many years, she is beyond prepared for this role, and I’m ready to support her in this historic moment. I look forward to rolling up our sleeves and working together on behalf of all New Yorkers."

New York GOP Chair Nick Langworthy:

“New Yorkers can breathe a collective sigh of relief that Andrew Cuomo will no longer be able to wield the immense power of the governor’s office to commit his corruption and abuse, but make no mistake, this resignation is simply an attempt to avoid real accountability for his numerous crimes. Thousands of lives have been destroyed by Andrew Cuomo and the legislature must continue to move forward with impeachment to ensure he can never run for office again.

Whether it was his numerous pay-to-play and corruption scandals, his deadly nursing home coverup or his $5 million book deal, the New York Republican Party has traveled across the state to expose the real Andrew Cuomo, even when it was a lonely solo mission. We will not rest until the entire stench of the Cuomo Administration is wiped clean from state government and we usher in a new era of integrity and common sense under a Republican governor in 2022.”

New York Democratic Party Chairman Jay Jacobs:

"New York will finally have its first female Governor and we could not be in better hands. From assisting her mother run a transitional domestic violence shelter to helping make the property tax cap permanent, Kathy Hochul has always and relentlessly fought for the people of New York. Her experience at all levels of government – Town Board Member, County Clerk, Congresswoman, and Lieutenant Governor, makes her uniquely well-equipped to effectively govern the State at this time. I am confident that incoming Governor Hochul’s empathy, work ethic and authentic concern for the welfare of its citizens will make her an outstanding Governor for our State."

State Sen. Jeremy Cooney:

"This is a moment of change. Survivors were not only believed, but there were direct consequences for Governor Cuomo’s abuse of power. I’m grateful for the courageous women who came forward. This sets a new precedence. No one, not even the Governor of New York, can use his office and privilege to avoid the consequences of their abusive actions. Men holding elected offices, such as myself, must be a vocal part of the conversation to amplify and support women and survivors. Sexual harassment is a crime. There is no gray area, no ambiguity, on what is appropriate versus what is a violation of boundaries. New York deserves better. I look forward to working with incoming Governor Kathy Hochul, the first woman governor of New York, to serve Rochesterians and all New Yorkers."

State Sen. Ed Rath:

“This afternoon’s resignation from Governor Cuomo is a welcomed and necessary relief for those New Yorkers he has harmed and those who continue to look to Albany for leadership amid this pandemic. Harassment has no place in our society, especially at the upper levels of state government.

"I continue to call on the State Legislature to ensure that other investigations into Governor Cuomo’s malfeasance remain ongoing. New Yorkers who lost loved ones in nursing homes deserve answers. While the Governor has already written his book, let us not write off other avenues where he has betrayed his oath of office. If ongoing investigations by the State Assembly reveal further misdeeds, impeachment must remain a viable option. The State Legislature must uphold its duty to hold Governor Cuomo accountable.

"I look forward to working with Lieutenant Governor Hochul in her new capacity as the first female Governor in New York State history. As a fellow Western New Yorker, I hope she strives to help New York heal and elevates the voices of upstate New Yorkers long maligned and ignored by downstate leaders. Having served with her at several levels of government, I am confident that her integrity is unwavering. Together, we will continue to navigate the challenges facing all New Yorkers.”

New York Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins:

“Today is a somber day for the state of New York, but one that demonstrates our ability to build a more accountable system of government. Governor Cuomo’s resignation opens the door to a restorative future. We all owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to the courageous women who came forward and helped pave the way for safer and more inclusive workspaces.

Working with Governor Kathy Hochul, the first woman Governor of New York State, we will continue to address the COVID-19 pandemic, rebuild our economy and face our challenges standing together. Governor Hochul is a dedicated leader, and united, we will get the people’s work done.”

Monroe County Executive Adam Bello:

“Andrew Cuomo’s decision to step down is the right thing to do given the seriousness of the findings in the Attorney General’s report. The Governor has lost the confidence of the people of the State of New York and of his partners in government. This allows our state to move forward.

"I am grateful for the courageous women who came forward to expose this behavior and to ensure that a person in a position of extraordinary power was held accountable.

"I have known Lt. Governor Hochul for a decade and have full faith and confidence in her ability to lead our state forward. Once sworn in, she will become the first woman to serve as Governor, the highest office in New York State. Lt. Governor Hochul is a thoughtful leader who knows the issues that impact upstate New York well. I look forward to working with her on behalf of Monroe County’s residents.”

Republican Majority Leader Steve Brew:

“Too little, too late. After months of resounding calls for his resignation, Governor Cuomo has finally decided to do right by the people of New York State and step down. The damage caused by Governor Cuomo and his allies has hurt all New Yorkers and will have severe implications into the future.

From grave sexual harassment charges to blatant deceit of the public to repeated criminal activity; Governor Cuomo has sown seeds of mistrust among the public. As we look ahead past the Governor’s final days in office, New Yorkers must come together to recover from the heavy-handed, crooked policies we’ve faced for over a decade.

It’s time for New York State to break the cycle of scandal, corruption, and greed. I hope Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul can steer New York State in a new direction and discontinue Governor Andrew Cuomo’s dangerous and dishonest policies.”