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Hero worship fails: Cuomo's downfall presaged by behavior media glossed over for years

"Every single thing I've seen in past couple of months was foreshadowed," says ex-prosecutor who tangled with disgraced governor years ago.

Updated: August 10, 2021 - 10:40pm

Days before last Thanksgiving, Andrew Cuomo was bestowed an Emmy, the prestigious Founders Award from the International Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. The media glowed about his "masterful use of television to inform and calm people around the world" with his daily pandemic briefings.

Exactly nine months later, he will be resigning Aug. 24 as New York governor in the disgrace of multiple scandals.

By any measure, Cuomo's political downfall is epic.

But a review of public records shows the misdeeds that brought down one of America's most powerful chief executives — the alleged sexual misconduct, character assassination, political lies and brass-knuckle politics as New York's attorney general chronicled in last week's bombshell report — were presaged decades before by behaviors that the media and Democrat elite often glossed over as they embraced a star rising from his father Mario's 20th century family dynasty to a 21st century political juggernaut of his own.

As early as the late 1990s, Cuomo's alleged propensity to sexually harass or demean women was whispered in the halls of Washington, where as Bill Clinton's Housing and Urban Development Secretary he famously tangled with the female chief watchdog of his agency.

Then-Inspector Susan Gaffney filed a 2000 civil rights complaint against Cuomo, alleging she was sexually harassed and discriminated against in retaliation for her stance against fraud at HUD. She also said Cuomo verbally abused her during weekend phone calls.

The complaint followed years of conflict between Gaffney and Cuomo, recounted in part during Gaffney's 1998 appearance before the Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs. In her testimony, Gaffney described being targeted with whisper campaigns and accusations, and of being set up to look like a racist who discriminated against minorities.

Cuomo demanded the power to conduct his own criminal investigations, and his staff once filed a frivolous complaint against her, Gaffney testified. She even described one confrontation when Cuomo tried to demean her but could not shoot back when challenged.

"He explained to me that his key aides saw me as the 'embodiment of evil,' and there was nothing he could do about that," Gaffney told riveted lawmakers. "I suggested that, if his key aides were acting without his approval, he should fire them; the Secretary did not respond."

Gaffney was ultimately exonerated and allowed to retire, but Cuomo's alleged aggressive behavior, his propensity to smear those who dared challenge him, lived on.

Even before 11 female subordinates came forward in the last few months to Attorney General Leticia James with allegations of harassment and unwanted touching followed by retaliation, the governor's apparent disdain for strong women in a position to challenge him was noted.

In 2014, Cuomo abruptly shut down the Moreland Commission he had created to root out endemic corruption in Albany when its chief investigator reportedly began examining his own inner circle.

E. Danya Perry, a former federal prosecutor named to be the panel's chief investigator, told the New Yorker magazine earlier this month the governor used the same strong-arm tactics to stop her work as were alleged in James' report on the sexual misconduct allegations.

"Every single thing I've seen in the past couple of months was foreshadowed," Perry told the magazine. "He obstructed, he lied, he bullied, he threatened. It's an M.O., and all of the different components of it — he tried them on for size with Moreland."

When Cuomo's order to send COVID-19-infected patients to nursing homes last year proved deadly, the governor again bludgeoned his critics, allegedly underreporting the number of deaths and seeking to undermine legitimate inquiries.

He still collected his pandemic Emmy, though.

A former adviser to Donald Trump said the two-decade narrative of Cuomo scandals illustrated the dangers of the media's propensity to hero-worship its favorite liberal icons.

"The media has propped up Andrew Cuomo for years," former National Security Council staffer Kash Patel told Just the News on Tuesday, citing the COVID nursing home and sexual harassment scandals.

"It would be good if the mainstream media outlets of the world now came out saying how they got the allegations wrong when they were first reported because they were drowned out and they didn't want Andrew Cuomo's voice to be quelled."

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