Cynthia Nixon, who challenged Mr. Cuomo for the Democratic nomination in 2018, said: “Our campaign kept saying that he pays all this lip service to women’s rights, but his allyship was always about a quarter of an inch deep. It was always to give himself political cover and appear like a caring ally, which was far from the truth, obviously.”
As the MeToo movement swept America, Mr. Cuomo emerged as a clarion voice on the side of victims. He surrounded himself with celebrity feminists and allied himself with the leaders of Time’s Up, the organization founded by Hollywood women to fight sexual abuse and promote gender equality. He railed against Republicans for pushing through the nomination of Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, calling on Mr. Kavanaugh to take a polygraph test. And he trumpeted New York’s sexual harassment legislation in 2019, saying it would “honor the women who have had the courage to come forward and tell their story.”
All the while, however, according to the state attorney general’s independent report, Mr. Cuomo was behaving privately in ways that he condemned publicly.
“What changed is the law caught up to everyone’s common understanding of sexual harassment,” said Rita Pasarell, co-founder of the Sexual Harassment Working Group, a group of former Albany legislative aides who pushed for the legislation. “What hasn’t changed is powerful people thinking they’re above the law. And I think that’s exactly the crux of what’s going on with Cuomo.”
Of course, it was Mr. Cuomo’s selection of a female lieutenant governor that will lead to Kathy Hochul’s being sworn in to succeed him, becoming New York’s first female governor, after 56 men, and only the 45th woman to serve as governor of any state.
Ms. Hochul, who was largely ignored by Mr. Cuomo, will take the reins of state government in the midst of a resurgent pandemic and in the wake of a leader who tightly controlled state government for over a decade.
That’s not atypical, in politics or in business. After men resign in scandal, female leaders are often asked to clean up the messes left behind.