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Wall Street Journal: Third female former staffer accuses New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo of inappropriate conduct

A third female former staffer has come forward with accusations of inappropriate conduct by embattled New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, according to reporting by the Wall Street Journal on Saturday night.

The Democratic governor already stands accused of sexual harassment by two women and unwanted advances against him by a third.

A former aide for Cuomo, Ana Liss, told The Wall Street Journal that the governor “asked her if she had a boyfriend, called her sweetheart, touched her on her lower back at a reception and once kissed her hand when she rose from her desk.”

CNN has reached out to Liss for comment.

Cuomo apologized earlier this month for making people uncomfortable and denied touching people inappropriately.

“I never touched anyone inappropriately. I never touched anyone inappropriately,” Cuomo said in his first public remarks addressing the scandal. “I never knew at the time that I was making anyone feel uncomfortable. I never knew at the time I was making anyone feel uncomfortable.”

Cuomo said during an appearance Wednesday that he was learning from his behavior.

“I understand that sensitivities have changed, and behavior has changed, and I get it. And I’m going to learn from it,” he said.

Liss served as a policy and operations aide to Cuomo from 2013 to 2015, according to the Journal.

Liss initially thought of Cuomo’s action as “harmless flirtations,” but she began to see it as “patronizing,” according to the Journal.

“It’s not appropriate, really, in any setting,” she told the Journal.

One such incident occurred when Liss was working at a reception at the Executive Mansion in Albany, New York, on May 6, 2014, according to the Journal.

“He came right over to me and he was like, ‘Hey, Sweetheart!'” Liss said.

She told the Journal that the “governor hugged her, kissed her on both cheeks and then wrapped his arm around her lower back and grabbed her waist.”

A photo shown by the Journal shows Cuomo’s hand around Liss’ waist.

In response to the claims made by Liss, Rich Azzopardi, a senior adviser to Cuomo, told CNN in a statement, “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.”

Liss said she never made a formal complaint about the governor’s conduct but did later ask for a transfer to another office. Liss said the experience led to her seeking mental health counseling in 2014, according to the Journal.

CNN previously reported that Charlotte Bennett, a former executive assistant and health policy adviser to Cuomo, told the New York Times that the governor had asked her a series of personal questions, including stating that he was open to relationships with women in their 20s.

She was the second woman to come forward with allegations of sexual harassment against Cuomo. Lindsey Boylan, a former aide to the governor, alleged that in 2018 Cuomo kissed her on the lips following a one-on-one briefing in his New York City office.

Another woman, Anna Ruch, told the Times — in an account that was corroborated to CNN by a friend — that Cuomo made an unwanted advance toward her during a crowded wedding reception in New York City in 2019.

An attorney for Bennett sent a letter Friday to New York Attorney General Letitia James calling for all documents and notes of conversations related to her client’s complaint to be maintained “without alteration.” A spokesperson with the New York State Attorney General’s Office said the office sent a preservation request to the governor’s office last week.

The request asks that all documents related to the sexual harassment allegations against Cuomo be preserved.

This story has been updated with additional background information and context.

CNN

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