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Politics

'It’s The Cuomo Way': Ex-Staffers Describe Toxic Work Environment, New Report Says

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo at a news briefing in Albany on Monday, Feb. 15. At left, is State Health Director Dr. Howard Zucker.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo at a news briefing in Albany on Monday, Feb. 15. At left, is State Health Director Dr. Howard Zucker. Photo Credit: flickr/New York Governor's Office

It’s New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s way or the highway, according to a newly released report highlighting what it’s like to work within the governor's administration.

Gothamist posted a new scathing report on the recently-embattled governor, which included claims from a former Cuomo staffer who detailed more scathing details about working with him and his top aides.

In the report, a blonde woman in her 20s who won a fellowship to work in Cuomo’s office in 2013 said that she was specifically sat at a desk “in the line of sight” of the governor, and was later told that he “likes blondes, particularly those in stiletto heels."

“There’s no right or wrong way. It’s the Cuomo way,” one former staffer said she was told when interviewing for the job, the report states. “He wants people who are literally going to fall on the sword for him, and they all will.”

According to the report, former staffers who worked under Cuomo said that he “has cultivated an intense work culture that was brutal for some, traumatic for others.”

The report states that the workplace was “outdated,” “gender binaries were the norm,” “bullying was constant,” and “people worked non-stop, blurring the lines between personal and professional lives.”

Staffers were reportedly expected to answer texts and phone calls and attend meetings at all hours of the day and night, any day of the week, while facing personal attacks.

Though those interviewed for the report said they didn’t witness any sexual harassment or sexual misconduct, one staffer said that she received kisses on the cheek, which she stated felt more like a fatherly gesture than being overtly sexual.

“‘I felt like I was special,’ she said, adding she preferred a kiss on the cheek to the screams she heard directed at staff members who’d angered Cuomo or his top aides. She watched other women who didn’t fit the archetype get bullied and mocked,” the report states.


“I knew by looking cute, and not being obstinate or opinionated, and doing what I was told and looking polished... That is the only way I would survive there.”

The report also depicts Cuomo as a micromanager who insisted on personally approving even minor details, and staffers said you were either all in on the “Cuomo Way” or you were out the door. The complete story from Gothamist can be found here.

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