A former aide to Gov. Andrew Cuomo described how he spotted her at a lobbying event, “grabbed her in a kind of dance pose” and then had her hired for his office, where he went on to “verbally and mentally abuse” her, she told New York Magazine, recalling how he would critique her outfits and once threatened to “end” her career over her failure to transfer a phone call.
The ex-staffer, identified only as Kaitlin, spoke to New York for an article published Friday, as dozens of Democratic lawmakers at the state and federal levels have called for Cuomo to resign over sexual harassment allegations by six women and the still-swirling scandal over his administration’s handling of the coronavirus in nursing homes.
Kaitlin first met Cuomo in 2016 while working at a lobbying firm hosting an event for the governor, she told New York.
As he was on his way out, Cuomo stopped to introduce himself to workers at the event, including Kaitlin.
The governor recognized Kaitlin from a previous job she held with a Democratic pol, and told her that she would soon be back in government, working at the state level, she said.
“Then he grabbed me in a kind of dance pose,” she recalled, as a photographer snapped away. “I was thinking, ‘This is the weirdest interaction I’ve ever had in my life … Don’t touch me.’”
Within a week, Kaitlin received a phone call from the governor’s office asking her to interview for a job, despite having never given her contact information to anyone in Cuomo’s circle, she said.
“We all knew that this was only because of what I looked like,” Kaitlin told New York. “Why else would you ask someone to come in two days after you had a two-minute interaction at a party?”
Though Kaitlin took the job out of consideration for her career, she soon came to regret it, she told New York.
She frequently had to rush out of the shower in the morning in order to meet Cuomo at his Midtown Manhattan office, simply because he decided to leave for work early, she recalled.
Then, when she managed to arrive on time, Cuomo would question why she didn’t look put together.
“‘You decided not to get ready today?’” she recalled him asking. “Or, ‘You didn’t put makeup on today?’”
New York magazine wrote: “In speaking with 30 women about their experiences with Cuomo, almost all who worked for him commented on the extreme pressure applied by both the governor and his top female aides to dress well and expensively; some were told explicitly by senior staff that they had to wear heels whenever he was around.”
Kaitlin added that she constantly felt pressure to wear designer clothes and high heels to live up to the governor’s expectations, a goal she found difficult to meet on her salary.
The work itself was also demeaning, with Cuomo regularly losing his cool when she failed to transfer a phone call using the clunky touch-tone keypad, Kaitlin said.
“You can’t figure out the f–king phones — I’m going to end your career,” she recalled him once threatening her.
When Kaitlin offered Cuomo her cell phone number on a different day, she recalled, the governor acted as though she was coming on to him.
“I thought that was a normal thing to offer your boss,” she said.
At a Super Bowl party not long after she started working for Cuomo, the governor struck up a conversation with a young woman, who was a member of the public, with a dove tattooed on her hand, Kaitlin said.
At an office meeting the next morning, Cuomo directed his aides to find the tattooed woman and potentially hire her to the gubernatorial staff, said Kaitlin — giving her an eerie flashback to how she was hired.
Though she recalled Cuomo asking questions about her dating life, as some of Cuomo’s accusers have alleged, Kaitlin said that she was unsure if any of her experiences constituted workplace sexual harassment — as five other current or former Cuomo staffers have alleged — she said she nevertheless felt her time in the governor’s employ was a living hell.
She told New York that she felt “verbally and mentally abused by him and his staff,” and considered the work environment “a form of coercive control.”
Cuomo’s office declined comment to The Post on the overall New York piece.
A Cuomo spokesperson did tell New York, “There is not now, nor has there ever been, an expectation to wear certain clothing or high heels.”
Additional reporting by Bernadette Hogan