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Top Cuomo adviser Melissa DeRosa resigns

▶ Watch Video: Cuomo accuser Brittany Commisso discusses scathing attorney general report

Melissa DeRosa, one of the top advisers to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, resigned Sunday night. DeRosa’s resignation comes just days after an investigation by New York Attorney General Letitia James concluded Cuomo sexually harassed 11 women, including staffers and women who did not work for his administration.

“It has been the greatest honor of my life to serve the people of New York for the past 10 years,” DeRosa said in a statement. “New Yorkers’ resilience, strength, and optimism through the most difficult times has inspired me every day. Personally, the past 2 years have been emotionally and mentally trying. I am forever grateful for the opportunity to have worked with such talented and committed colleagues on behalf of our state.”

James’ report described an “unsafe” and “hostile” work environment in the governor’s office. It also detailed several allegations against DeRosa, including testimony from a woman referred to as “Executive Assistant #1” who said she was terrified of senior staff, including DeRosa, learning about her accusations.

“[T]he way he was so firm with [me] that I couldn’t show anyone else that photo, I was just terrified that if I shared what was going on that it would somehow get around,” she said in the report. “And if Stephanie Benton or Melissa [DeRosa] heard that, I was going to lose my job. Because I knew that I certainly was going to be the one to go.”

 In this Sept. 14, 2018 file photo, Secretary to the Governor Melissa DeRosa, is joined by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo as she speaks to reporters during a news conference, in New York. 

Mary Altaffer / AP

That woman, Brittany Commisso, spoke to “CBS This Morning” and the Times Union in an exclusive interview that will air Monday morning. She described a series of escalating encounters with the governor, which she said began with “hugs with kisses on the cheek.” She said she was afraid to come forward. 

“I didn’t say anything this whole time. People don’t understand that this is the governor of the state of New York. There are troopers that are outside of the mansion and there are some mansion staff. Those troopers that are there, they are not there to protect me. They are there to protect him,” she said. “I felt as though if I did something to insult him, especially insult him in his own home, it wasn’t going to be him that was going to get fired or in trouble. It was going to be me. And I felt as though if I said something that I know, who was going to believe me?”  

Cuomo has denied the allegations. 

Earlier this year, DeRosa told Democratic lawmakers that Cuomo’s administration took months to release data on the coronavirus death toll among the state’s nursing home residents because officials “froze” over worries the information was “going to be used against us.” 

DeRosa was also one of the Cuomo aides who was accused of pushing state health officials to edit a July 2020 report so that only residents who died inside long-term care facilities, and not those who became ill there and later died at a hospital, were counted, according to reports from The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, citing documents and people with knowledge of the administration’s internal discussions.

DeRosa was frequently seated next to Cuomo during his COVID-19 briefings during the pandemic, which earned him — and her — national attention. 

Ed O’Keefe and Michael Kaplan contributed to this report.


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