NY Gov's top aide recounts episodes of harassment, sexism
Oct. 18, 2017
ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — The senior adviser to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Wednesday she has experienced repeated sexism and harassment during her career — including an inappropriate sexual comment from someone who is now a national leader in progressive politics.
Secretary to the Governor Melissa DeRosa did not identify who made the remark, which occurred on a work conference call several years ago. DeRosa was 25 at the time and says the man did not know she was on the call.
She said that when her boss said on the call that DeRosa would be "taking the lead" on a particular aspect of a project, the man on the other end of the line responded: "She can take the lead right up to my hotel room."
"The man who said that is now a national leader in progressive politics," said DeRosa, who detailed the incident during an address to a Berkeley College conference on women in media in Manhattan.
She did not offer any other information about the man or his position. A spokesman for Cuomo, a Democrat, later said she would not be identifying him.
DeRosa also recounted chauvinistic and condescending comments from male lawmakers, including one who brushed her off by telling her he wanted to speak to Cuomo "man to man." She also criticized news stories about her for focusing too much on her connection to her father — a powerful Albany lobbyist.
Her remarks come amid heightened scrutiny of the treatment of women in the workplace following sexual harassment and assault allegations against Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein.
DeRosa led Cuomo's communications team and was his chief of staff before being named the Democratic governor's top aide. She is the first woman to serve in the position. In her remarks at the conference she called on women to continue to share their stories of mistreatment.
"It is vital that visible women in positions of power and leadership speak up about the challenges we faced and continue to face every day," she said. "It's the only way that those who come after us won't have to fight the same things we do."