Reporter speaks out on Gov. Cuomo's behavior, 'unwavering eye contact,' 'flirting'

"Actually starring to the point that I started blushing and looking around at people surrounding me ..." the female reporter said.

Updated: March 18, 2021 - 1:21pm

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Another female journalist has come forward with allegations against New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, whom she said made her feel "uncomfortable" with his "flirting" and "unwavering eye contact."

Valerie Bauman, a reporter with Bloomberg News, recounted her encounters with the Democratic governor beginning when she was 25 and covering New York state politics for the Associated Press.

"I have decided to share my experience to shine a light on the broader culture of sexual harassment and devaluation of women’s voices in Albany. Perhaps things have changed in the past decade, but I suspect not enough," Bauman wrote on Twitter in a lengthy post Thursday.

"To be clear: Andrew Cuomo never touched me inappropriately or said anything that I felt I could report to my boss. He did make me uncomfortable, as did a lot of men in Albany," Bauman continued. "My greatest hesitation about speaking on this matter was that my story would be interpreted as putting certain problematic behavior on par with more severe cases."

She said she is speaking out now "there is room to talk about any situation where a professional is treated differently because of their gender, race, sexuality or gender identity" in the current climate.

She said Cuomo made "unwavering eye contact" with her during a press conference when he was the state's attorney general.

"Actually starring to the point that I started blushing and looking around at people surrounding me, whose own facial expressions indicated, ‘Yes, ma’am, he’s looking at you,' " Bauman wrote. Then, she said, Cuomo approached her.

"He took my hand, entered my personal space and looked into my eyes as he announced, ‘Hello, I’m Andrew Cuomo,' " Bauman wrote. "Afterward, a fellow reporter loudly observed that Andrew Cuomo seemed very into me. I was embarrassed, but least is wasn’t my imagination, I thought."

Bauman said she was later approached about a job in Cuomo’s office but stayed in journalism.

"Soon after that, I started to get an unusual level of access to the attorney general. Cuomo’s office had a reputation in the press corps for ignoring requests and being very controlling about the public narrative around the attorney general. Yet, when I would call with simple question that and aide could easily answer, Andrew Cuomo would sometimes pick up the phone himself," she wrote. "He would greet me in a booming voice, repeating my name frequently."

Cuomo, she said, would often dodge her questions and then ask "random" personal questions.

"It felt like he was flirting with me, and I think that’s because he was. It was embarrassing and uncomfortable, but I did my best to do the job without giving him any indication I was flirting back," she wrote. "The calls eventually dwindled and stopped altogether. So that’s it. That is my whole story of covering Andrew Cuomo."

Seven women have come forward to accuse Cuomo of inappropriate behavior.

"Andrew Cuomo’s hands had been on my body – on my arms, my shoulders, the small of my back, my waist – often enough by late 2014 that I didn’t want to go to the holiday party he was hosting for the Albany press corps at the executive mansion," former New York political reporter Jessica Bakeman wrote in a column for New York magazine posted Friday.

Anna Ruch, a former Biden 2020 campaign worker, told The New York Times this month that the governor made unwanted sexual advances toward her after they met at a wedding in New York City in 2019.

She also accused Cuomo, 63, of kissing her without her permission, even as she tried to pull away. Ruch said the encounter left her "confused and shocked and embarrassed."

Another accuser, Charlotte Bennett, a former Cuomo aide, alleges that the governor inquired about her sex life and asked her whether she would be amenable to a relationship with an older man.

And another former aide, Lindsey Boylan, said Cuomo "made inappropriate comments about her appearance, kissed her without her consent at the end of a meeting and once suggested they play strip poker while aboard his state-owned jet," the Associated Press reported.

Three more women have made similar allegations. 

The most recent, prior to Bauman's allegations, said the governor groped her last year at the executive mansion after she had called there to do some work. The woman also said she was alone with the governor in the mansion when he "closed the door and allegedly reached under her blouse and began to fondle her,” a source told the Albany Times Union. The incident has not been corroborated.

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