Following revelations that sexual harasser James Kiyonaga is still on the Governor’s payroll, women harassed and intimidated by top Cuomo officials and state legislators, come together with other survivors, to call for change
Today, Democratic candidate for Governor Cynthia Nixon stood with Erica Vladimer of the Sexual Harassment Working Group, and Zenaida Mendez, Former President, National Organization for Women NYS, in Manhattan to call on Governor Cuomo to take real action to combat the sexual harassment that has plagued his administration and permeated in workplaces across the state. They were also joined by other survivors of sexual harassment from workplaces across New York.
Governor Cuomo drafted new sexual harassment legislation this year without a single female legislator in the room and without allowing any public testimony from the survivors. Full video of the presser is available here.
“New Yorkers deserve better than a governor who ignores the survivors and, instead, chooses to shield and even promote those who have been accused,” said Cynthia. “I stand with the Sexual Harassment Working Group to demand public hearings on sexual harassment in Albany. People like Jeff Klein and Jay Kiyonaga have been given a free pass under Andrew Cuomo. He has allowed a culture of harassment, silence, and retaliation to permeate in Albany and across the state.”
While the Governor claims he takes action against sexual harassers in his administration, WCNY reported last week that a senior administration official, Jay Kiyonaga, who the Inspector General found guilty of sexual harassment is still on Cuomo’s payroll.
Zenaida Mendez also spoke at the press conference. When Mendez was President of the New York chapter of the National Organization for Women (NOW), she was pressured by Joe Percoco to endorse Cuomo over Zephyr Teachout in 2014. When the organization did not endorse Cuomo, Percoco orchestrated Mendez's removal from her leadership position.
"The buck stops with Governor Cuomo. He, who is the employer of all state employees, colluded with the other three men in the room earlier this year, to create legislation that protected their own status as men in power to the detriment of women in this state and to the men of this state that they were elected to protect," said Mendez. "We are sick and tired of inaction on this issue."
The Sexual Harassment Working Group was also present at today’s event. The campaign was launched by seven former New York State legislative employees who experienced, witnessed, or reported sexual harassment by former Assembly Members Vito Lopez and Micah Kellner, former Counsel to Speaker Sheldon Silver Michael Boxley, and Senator Jeff Klein.
"Holding public hearings on how best to protect workers all over New York is shear common sense," said Erica Vladimer, a Sexual Harassment Working Group leader. "By listening to victims, our elected officials will be able to strengthen the laws passed in April, and we will be one step closer to a harassment free Albany."