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New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo. (Photo: Senior Airman Sean Madden, courtesy of the U.S. Air National Guard )

Murphy declines comment on Cuomo sexual harassment allegations

By Nikita Biryukov, February 26 2021 3:41 pm

Gov. Phil Murphy declined to comment on sexual harassment allegations lodged against New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo by a former aide Friday.

“As it relates to Gov. Cuomo, I have a general sense of things, but let me just say this. A: My nose is pressed to the New Jersey glass morning, noon and night, and B: He has been an extraordinary partner at every step of the way in this pandemic,” Murphy said when asked for his view on the allegations.

Earlier this week, Lindsey Boylan, a former special advisor to Cuomo who is now running for Manhattan borough president, accused him in an online essay of kissing her in 2018. She resigned from the administration that September.

Cuomo has denied the allegations.

“Ms. Boylan’s claims of inappropriate behavior are quite simply false,” his press secretary, Caitlin Girouard, said.

The growing scandal across the Hudson puts Murphy into a politically fraught situation. New Jersey and New York are inexorably linked, and while Cuomo’s controversy is his own, Republicans have already sought to link the two in attacks over their Murphy’s handling of the pandemic.

Murphy’s 2017 campaign’s own issues with sexual misconduct make the issue even more sensitive. Katie Brennan, now the chief of staff at the State Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency, accused Al Alvarez, then in charge of Muslim and Latino outreach for the governor’s campaign, of sexually assaulting her in April 2017.

The allegations created a storm in Trenton after appearing in the Wall Street Journal, spawning legislative hearings that wore on for months and ended with a report charging top administration officials moved slowly to address the accusations, when they moved at all.

That scandal followed and was followed by claims of a toxic campaign environment that caused less of a stir but have remained in the public view amid listening sessions by Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg’s (D-Teaneck) working group on misogyny and sexual misconduct in New Jersey politics.

Despite the risks, New Jersey’s governor is sticking by his New York counterpart.

“He’s been a great partner and his team has been as well,” Murphy said of Cuomo Friday.

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