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County official alleges Cuomo acted inappropriately when she was his aide


A high-ranking Monroe County official has reportedly become the third woman to accuse Gov. Andrew Cuomo of inappropriate workplace behavior.

Ana Liss, appearing on the WXXI-TV public affairs program, Need to Know, in May 2016, in a program about millennials and workplace cultures - PHOTO PROVIDED BY WXXI NEWS
  • Ana Liss, appearing on the WXXI-TV public affairs program, Need to Know, in May 2016, in a program about millennials and workplace cultures
Ana Liss, the county's current director of planning and development who was a policy and operations aide to Cuomo from 2013 to 2015, told the Wall Street Journal that the governor touched her lower back at a reception and once kissed her hand when she rose from a desk.

The Journal reported Liss's allegations on Saturday.

Liss, who is now 35 years old, told the Journal that the actions by Cuomo were unsolicited and happened while she sat at her desk, which was near his office in the Executive Chamber at the Capitol in Albany.

Liss said that she initially perceived Cuomo’s conduct as harmless flirtations, but over time came to see it as patronizing. She told the WSJ that, “It’s not appropriate, really, in any setting.”

Rich Azzopardi, a senior adviser to Cuomo, provided this statement to WXXI News on Saturday night:

"Reporters and photographers have covered the governor for 14 years watching him kiss men and women and posing for pictures. At the public open house mansion‎ reception there are hundreds of people and he poses for hundreds of pictures. That's what people in politics do."

Last Wednesday, Cuomo said that, "You know, my usual custom is to kiss and to hug and make that gesture. I understand that sensitivities have changed and behavior has changed, and I get it. And I’m going to learn from it."

Liss told the Journal that she decided to come forward after two former aides, Lindsey Boylan and Charlotte Bennett, accused the governor of engaging in inappropriate behaviors. Last week Cuomo publicly addressed sexual harassment accusations against him for the first time, saying Wednesday that he did not intend to make anyone uncomfortable and that he is truly sorry.

Another woman, Anna Ruch, produced a photo that showed the governor, who she did not know, holding her face in his hands at a wedding in 2019. She said he then asked if he could kiss her. Ruch told The New York Times that she removed the Democratic governor's hand from her back, but he said she seemed "aggressive," and then put his hands on her face and asked if he could kiss her.

Many are calling for his resignation, including some members of Cuomo’s own Democratic Party, but the governor says he’s not leaving.

Liss told the Wall Street Journal that she was working at a reception at the Executive Mansion in Albany in May 2014 when Cuomo hugged her, kissed her on both cheeks, and then wrapped his arm around her lower back and grabbed her waist. Liss said she never made a formal complaint about the behavior of the governor or anyone else, according to the paper, though she eventually asked for a transfer to another office.

Liss told the Journal that her experience working for Cuomo prompted her to begin mental health counseling in 2014.

Liss joined the administration of Monroe County Executive Adam Bello a year ago.

Bello, who like Cuomo, is a Democrat, issued this statement Saturday night:

“Ana has shown tremendous strength in speaking about her experiences and the emotional trauma that resulted from her time working for the Governor. She is a valued member of my team since joining Monroe County over a year ago. I support Ana fully, as well as the other courageous women coming forward to share their stories.

Sexual harassment, unwanted sexual attention, and degrading or abusive behavior can never be tolerated, whether in the workplace or anywhere else. The tone for workplace culture is set at the top, and it is the responsibility of any leader to build a culture of respect and dignity for all persons, where all employees feel safe and know they are valued. We owe it to each of the women who have shared their experience to fully investigate their claims, and to expedite the investigation. The people of New York deserve nothing less.”

Before working for Monroe County, Liss was managing director of business development for Greater Rochester Enterprise.

State Senator Jeremy Cooney, a Democrat representing the 56th district, issued this statement Saturday night:

“I believe Ana Liss and commend her bravery. This alarming accusation is another example that suggests Governor Cuomo creates a hostile workplace for women. We cannot accept this behavior in New York State. I have reached out to the attorney general and asked her to include Ms. Liss in the independent investigation.

Ms. Liss is a leader in Monroe County and has helped bring hundreds of good-paying jobs to Rochester. She is dedicated to her work and is the type of professional we need in public service.”

Randy Gorbman is the news director at WXXI News, a media partner of CITY.