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‘It must be really sad to be him’: Women who spoke out against Cuomo rebuild as he attempts revival

5 1812 11
11.04.2022

ALBANY, N.Y. — Andrew Cuomo is on a comeback tour, making appearances at Black churches in New York City, decrying “cancel culture” and pretending the past year didn’t happen.

Meanwhile, two of the women who publicly accused him of sexual harassment are in the process of rebuilding their lives and careers — and watching the Cuomo revival with a mixture of disbelief and exhausted indifference.

This is not what they — or anyone in New York — expected last year, when it seemed as though their accusations and those of nine other women would permanently extinguish the career of one of the most famous Democratic governors in America.

Fewer than eight months after he resigned in disgrace and set off a series of secondary scandals that ruined the careers of top aides and his own brother, the former New York governor is seeking a reemergence in politics, running some $2 million in TV ads and stoking rumors of a run for his old seat.

“I've thought to myself, what would I ever say if I ever ran into him in person? Or if I ever had an opportunity to say something,” said Brittany Commisso, a former aide who privately reported that Cuomo groped her at the state’s Executive Mansion in late 2020 and later revealed her identity in a national TV interview. “And honestly, I just have pity. It must be really sad to be him.”

Commisso and Charlotte Bennett, another former aide who accused Cuomo of misconduct, spoke to POLITICO in a series of phone interviews in recent weeks — offering their first substantial public comments about their lives since Cuomo left office. Bennett and Commisso are now reimagining their shattered personal and professional lives, as Cuomo attempts to put back together the pieces of his old identity.



They say they’re not scared of him or his network of supporters any more, and that they’ve learned to tune out frenzied speculation about his future. But they say they’re disappointed that many in state politics — even those who affirmed their allegations and pushed for Cuomo’s resignation — have not dismissed the entire notion he could run again.

“I understand he resigned, but that's not the point,” Commisso said. “The point is, resignation doesn’t bring accountability. It was his choice. If you or I walked up to someone, grabbed them, touched them inappropriately, we would hopefully be held accountable.”

Bennett, who said Cuomo made inappropriate remarks about her body, sex life and past trauma, said that unless the former governor actually announces another run for office, “I don't really care what he has to say. I don't think anyone else should.”

"It's been over a year since I came forward and almost two since Cuomo's sexual harassment, but I'm far from recovered,” Bennett said. “I'm still working to accept that I can't just go back to my old life. I'm still mourning my old life. And every transcript drop, every news article, every press conference was, and is, difficult.”

Cuomo’s team continues to call his departure from office “a case of politicization and weaponization of everyday interactions and exaggerated and false claims.”

“The Governor has repeatedly apologized if he unintentionally made anyone feel uncomfortable, but did not harass anyone and the demands that we be silenced and allow the facts to be papered over is the very definition of cancel culture,” spokesperson Rich Azzopardi said in an email.

Commisso has a job with the administration of Cuomo’s replacement, Democratic Gov. Kathy Hochul. Bennett is still deciding what her career trajectory outside of state government might look like.

But moving on is a difficult task, more so when their accounts — corroborated by investigations from Democratic Attorney General Tish James and the state Assembly — continue to be publicly called into question by ads Cuomo has aired and his lawyer’s insistence the women are not credible witnesses.

“I am numb to it,” Commisso said about being called a liar by Cuomo’s attorney. “I think it's sad that I'm numb to it, but it’s completely changed my life. If anyone thinks that there's anything to gain from what has transpired over the past year, or [I had] ulterior motives, they've lost their mind.”

‘They tore me apart’

Bennett and Commisso became the public faces of the scandal as it exploded last spring and summer. They were not the firsts — former aide Lindsey Boylan initially spoke up on........

© Politico


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