Sue Serino

March 11, 2021

HYDE PARK, NY — While reiterating the call for Governor Andrew Cuomo to resign amidst multiple scandals, Senator Sue Serino today is arguing for the need for the Legislature to establish a better process to force the Executive to step aside, and for the creation of an independent body to accept and review sexual harassment allegations in the Capitol:

To date, we have learned of a cover-up of nursing home death data, multiple sexual harassment allegations, accusations of harassment of lawmakers and others, and potential ‘structural safety’ issues surrounding the Governor Mario M. Cuomo Bridge. Here in our community, when it comes to harassment, we start by believing, and while all people are entitled to due process, there is simply no way that the Governor should maintain his control over state government during this time. It is painfully clear that the Governor should do the right thing and resign.

I govern by listening, and it is clear that those I serve remain deeply divided on the issue of whether the Governor should maintain his position. However, we are in the midst of the most consequential State Budget in New York’s history—a process that is almost fully controlled by the Governor. Not only are we dealing with our state funds, but now we are dealing with billions of dollars from the federal government that we cannot allow to be held hostage by a Governor more interested in salvaging his own political career than meeting the many needs of struggling New Yorkers. If the Governor continues to refuse resignation, the Legislature must exercise its full power to remove him from that position.

This situation has exposed a glaring lack of options for the Legislature —and thereby the people of New York. It is truly abhorrent that short of impeachment, the Legislature has no real power to force the Governor to at the very least step aside while these serious allegations are investigated and/or adjudicated. That is why I will be exploring the possibility of introducing a constitutional amendment that would give the Legislature the power needed to force the Executive to cede power to the Lieutenant Governor if he or she is the subject of an active investigation as Governor Cuomo is now.

Further, the latest allegations make it painfully clear that we have to move swiftly to establish a truly independent body to review claims of sexual harassment in government. We have a duty to ensure that victims have access to a process they can trust to report misconduct and hold perpetrators accountable. I have sponsored legislation for years to create a truly independent commission to evaluate such claims, and it is needed now more than ever. I stand ready to work with any of my colleagues to advance an effective proposal to establish a fully independent process to put a real end to the culture that has silenced victims for far too long.”