On Wednesday night, Cynthia Nixon and Gov. Andrew Cuomo squared off in a contentious debate in which they sparred on single-payer healthcare, the subway, and each other’s tax returns. Fact-checks were flying into reporters’ inboxes from both camps all night.
More than once, what was likely going to be their only debate before the September 13 primary veered into territory that can only be described as “petty AF” — like when Gov. Cuomo suggested that Nixon used her celebrity status to help her friend and Sex and the City co-star Sarah Jessica Parker, who was trying to keep Tea & Sympathy afloat. [ Ed. note: Fun fact, Tea & Sympathy is the adorable British West Village tea shop where we first meet Nick and Rachel from Crazy Rich Asians.] Nixon was passing along an email from Parker to the office of Mayor Bill de Blasio, with whom she has a close relationship.
But, as Nixon tweeted after the debate, there are plenty of subjects the two have left to discuss — enough for at least one more debate, in which Nixon said she’d gladly participate — like education, jobs, the entirety of upstate New York, and sexual harassment.
The latter is especially important in light of the news that Gov. Cuomo suspended an investigation into the 2015 case against disgraced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein, as reported by BuzzFeed News. Reportedly, Weinstein’s former lawyer David Boies gave Cuomo’s campaign $25,000 just days before Cuomo halted the investigation into Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance’s handling of allegations against Weinstein.
Gov. Cuomo has a shameful record when it comes to not holding powerful men accountable for sexual harassment.
Nixon’s campaign told Refinery29 that sexual harassment should have been on the table at the debate given Cuomo’s record.
“Cynthia believes the Governor owes New Yorkers a real explanation,” Nixon’s chief spokesperson Lauren Hitt told Refinery29. “Cuomo made a big public show of ordering the investigation, and then he very, very quietly suspended it. He needs to come clean about why he suspended it and why he wasn’t upfront about the suspension in the first place.”
Cuomo’s press secretary Dani Lever said the governor put the investigation on hold so it doesn’t interfere with the ongoing criminal case against Weinstein, which came from allegations reported in 2017 in the New York Times and the New Yorker.
“The only reason to temporarily postpone the Attorney General’s investigation was to avoid interference with the ongoing criminal prosecution against Harvey Weinstein,” Lever told Refinery29.
Lever added that Boies’ firm had also donated $200,000 to Cuomo over the past 10 years, and “that didn’t stop the Governor from directing the investigation into the matter in the first place.” Further, she said, Boies’ contribution is “irrelevant” to any pending investigation or prosecution because Boies stopped representing Weinstein as early as November 2017.
Nixon’s camp continues to double down on Cuomo’s sexual harassment record, maintaining that he leads an old boys’ club where misconduct is swept under the rug. Earlier this month, Nixon teamed up with a group of survivors to call on the governor to take action against sexual harassers in his administration.
“Governor Cuomo has a shameful record when it comes to not holding powerful men accountable for sexual harassment,” Nixon said in a statement. “He has repeatedly ignored reports of sexual harassment among senior state officials and in some cases continued to promote them until confronted by members of the press. When the Governor rewrote legislation on sexual harassment earlier this year, he also excluded any female legislators from the room — but included a male legislator accused of sexual harassment.”
According to a report from the Times Union, Cuomo was told about mistreatment of female Division of Criminal Justice Services employees back in March, but didn’t take steps to rectify the issue. The governor’s office declined to comment to the Times Union at the time. He’s also been accused of drafting state sexual harassment policy “without a single woman in the room” and mansplaining sexual harassment to a female reporter — behavior Nixon called downright “Trumpian.”
We reached out to Cuomo’s campaign and will update this story when we hear back.
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