ALBANI, New York – New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s top aide suddenly announced her resignation late Sunday, delivering the latest blow to an embattled governor standing on the brink of impeachment amid Massive sexual harassment scandal.
Melissa DeRosa, Cuomo’s longtime aide who has held the title of secretary to the governor since 2017, issued a public statement around 9:30 p.m. Sunday confirming her stepping down.
The statement did not say the reason for her resignation, nor did Cuomo mention it by name.
“It has been the greatest honor of my life to serve New Yorkers for the past 10 years,” she said. “The resilience, strength, and optimism of New Yorkers during the toughest times has inspired me every day.”
Her statement continued, “On a personal level, the past two years have been emotionally and mentally exhausting. I am forever grateful for the opportunity to work with such talented and committed colleagues on behalf of our nation.”
Cuomo is trying to avoid accountability
DeRosa’s resignation comes as Cuomo tries to fend off calls for his ouster after the release of a 165-page report from Attorney General Letitia James’s office that concluded he sexually harassed 11 women, including nine government employees.
Until her passing, DeRosa, 38, was one of the few remaining Cuomo loyalists who remained a part of his inner circle.
DeRosa first joined the Cuomo administration in 2013 as director of communications, quickly rising the ranks to chief of staff before becoming secretary to the governor, the highest non-elected position in New York state.
She played a key role in organizing several successful Cuomo policy payments, including raising the minimum wage and enacting paid family leave. She was also Cuomo’s chief policy advisor on women’s equality, serving as chairperson of the Council of State for Women and Girls.
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Her profile has grown alongside Cuomo during the coronavirus pandemic, with DeRosa being omnipresent sitting next to the governor during daily press conferences that have drawn a national audience. She was heavily involved in the state’s day-to-day response to the virus, and was often called upon for elaborate explanations during briefings.
DeRosa was the outlet for Cuomo
DeRosa has earned a reputation as Cuomo’s main executor, which was revealed in a prosecutor’s office report released last week.
The report painted DeRosa as the architect of a plan to obtain advisory notes for Lindsey Boylan — the former Cuomo aide who has publicly accused the governor of harassment — and release them to the press in an attempt to discredit her.
DeRosa was also accused of directing a former employee to surreptitiously record a phone call with another former employee of Como who expressed support for Boylan.
In February, DeRosa found herself at the center of a separate scandal surrounding the Cuomo administration, one that focused on the state’s count of COVID-19 deaths in nursing homes.
That month, DeRosa held a private meeting with state lawmakers — a recording of which was leaked to the New York Post — in which she appears to indicate that Cuomo’s administration knowingly held back the full number of nursing home residents who have died from the virus.
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Up until that point, the state had only released the number of nursing home residents who died in the actual homes themselves, not the thousands who died in hospitals or nursing homes.
She claimed that a request for information from the Justice Department under President Donald Trump contributed to the decision to delay the release of the full number of state lawmakers who had been requesting it for weeks.
“Basically, we froze because at the time we were in a situation where we weren’t sure whether what we were going to present to the Department of Justice or what we were presenting to you guys and what we started saying would be used against us and we weren’t sure if there would be an investigation,” DeRosa told lawmakers.
Como’s inner circle is shrinking
DeRosa’s departure left him with a few allies remaining at Albany, where the governor has been hiding in the Executive Palace since the attorney general’s report was issued.
The House Judiciary Committee, which is leading an impeachment inquiry, has given the governor until Friday to provide evidence while it concludes its investigation.
Cuomo is also the subject of a criminal investigation in Albany County, where he is accused of molesting executive assistant Brittany Commisso at the mansion last year.
Meanwhile, the US Attorney’s Office in Brooklyn is believed to be investigating the Cuomo administration’s handling of COVID-19 in nursing homes.
Cuomo asserted that he did not touch anyone inappropriately, and suggested that some of his comments about the employees’ personal lives may have been misinterpreted.
His office did not immediately respond to a request for comment on DeRosa’s departure.
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