A former aide to Gov. Andrew Cuomo described how he spotted her at a lobbying event, “grabbed her in a kind of dance pose” and then had her hired for his office, where he went on to “verbally and mentally abuse” her, she told New York Magazine, recalling how he would critique her outfits and once threatened to “end” her career over her failure to transfer a phone call.
The ex-staffer, identified only as Kaitlin, spoke to New York for an article published Friday, as dozens of Democratic lawmakers at the state and federal levels have called for Cuomo to resign over sexual harassment allegations by six women and the still-swirling scandal over his administration’s handling of the coronavirus in nursing homes.
Kaitlin first met Cuomo in 2016 while working at a lobbying firm hosting an event for the governor, she told New York.
As he was on his way out, Cuomo stopped to introduce himself to workers at the event, including Kaitlin.
The governor recognized Kaitlin from a previous job she held with a Democratic pol, and told her that she would soon be back in government, working at the state level, she said.
“Then he grabbed me in a kind of dance pose,” she recalled, as a photographer snapped away. “I was thinking, ‘This is the weirdest interaction I’ve ever had in my life … Don’t touch me.’”
Within a week, Kaitlin received a phone call from the governor’s office asking her to interview for a job, despite having never given her contact information to anyone in Cuomo’s circle, she said.
Though Kaitlin took the job out of consideration for her career, she soon came to regret it, she told New York.
She frequently had to rush out of the shower in the morning in order to meet Cuomo at his Midtown Manhattan office, simply because he decided to leave for work early, she recalled.
Then, when she managed to arrive on time, Cuomo would question why she didn’t look put together.
“‘You decided not to get ready today?’” she recalled him asking. “Or, ‘You didn’t put makeup on today?’”
Kaitlin added that she constantly felt pressure to wear designer clothes and high heels to live up to the governor’s expectations, a goal she found difficult to meet on her salary.
The work itself was also demeaning, with Cuomo regularly losing his cool when she failed to transfer a phone call using the clunky touch-tone keypad, Kaitlin said.
“You can’t figure out the f–king phones — I’m going to end your career,” she recalled him once threatening her.
While Kaitlin said she was unsure whether any of her experiences constituted workplace sexual harassment — as five other current or former Cuomo staffers have alleged — she said she nevertheless felt her time in the governor’s employ was a living hell.
She told New York that she felt “verbally and mentally abused by him and his staff,” and considered the work environment “a form of coercive control.”
Cuomo’s office did not immediately respond to an inquiry by The Post on the overall New York piece.
A Cuomo spokesperson did tell New York, “There is not now, nor has there ever been, an expectation to wear certain clothing or high heels.”