Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s spokesman reportedly went into damage-control mode when an ex-aide first alleged that he sexually harassed her — calling another former aide who later went public with her own accusations.
Ana Liss told Rochester TV station WROC that she was on her honeymoon in December when Cuomo spokesman Rich Azzopardi phoned her out of the blue.
“I thought at first that it was about work, like maybe it’s an economic development project that we’re working on here,” said Liss, now Monroe County’s director of planning and development.
“And he said instead, ‘I have kind of an awkward question to ask you, has Lindsey Boylan reached out to you, have you spoken to her?’”
Liss — who worked for Cuomo for two years before leaving in 2015 — added: “And I said, ‘No,’ and then we hung up, and I remember thinking, ‘How many other people is he calling? Why is he calling us?’”
Liss, 35, said the phone call came two days after Boylan, now a Democratic candidate for Manhattan borough president, first tweeted about being sexually harassed by Cuomo, 63.
Boylan, 36, initially didn’t detail her allegations, but last month she published an online essay that said Cuomo unexpectedly kissed her “on the lips” in his Manhattan office in 2018 and also said, “Let’s play strip poker” during an October 2017 flight on his official state jet.
That opened the floodgates for five other women — including Liss — to also accuse Cuomo of sexual harassment or inappropriate behavior to date.
During her Monday interview, Liss said Boylan’s initial tweets led her to think, “Wow, that’s dangerous, good luck to you, I would never open my mouth, they’re going to crush you like a bug.”
But after “this really started to blow up,” Liss said, “I thought, ‘You know, maybe it isn’t as dangerous as I thought for Lindsey to speak out.’”
Liss also said that after Boylan’s essay appeared on the Medium website, “She called me and said she was calling me because she saw me in the workplace and she knew I may have similar stories to share.”
Meanwhile, in her essay, Boylan said that following her tweets in December, “two women reached out to me with their own experiences” but also “told me they are too afraid to speak out.”
Liss — who has accused Cuomo of, among other things, kissing her on both cheeks and grabbing her around the waist to pose for a photograph in Albany’s Executive Mansion — said that other women were allegedly “subject to much more explicit treatment than I was” by Cuomo.
“I decided to share my story because it’s a small piece of a much larger and more elaborate puzzle that I think New Yorkers should be aware of,” she said.
“I don’t think Albany or state government, working in the Executive Chamber, is a safe space [for] young women early in their careers.”
Cuomo’s office didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.