TOP 10: Governor Kathy Hochul makes history in New York (No. 9)

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  • Kathy Hochul
    Governor of New York
  • Andrew Cuomo
    Andrew Cuomo
    56th Governor of New York
  • Chris Cuomo
    Chris Cuomo
    American journalist

Dec. 22—At the center of a very historic moment in state history, Western New York's Kathy Hochul became New York's first female governor following the stunning fall from grace of Andrew Cuomo in 2021.

Hochul, a former member of Congress, took the oath of office just after midnight on Aug. 24 overseen by the state's chief judge, Janet DiFiore. She promised a "fresh, collaborative approach" in state government. "I want people to believe in their government again. It's important to me that people have faith," she said.

It was a scene no one expected entering 2021 — though cracks had begun to appear for Cuomo late in 2020.

The former governor, who was front-and-center through the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic, was one of those under consideration by President-elect Joe Biden for the role of U.S. attorney general in early December, 2020 — but days later an aide accused Cuomo of sexual harassment and his epic fall from grace had begun.

Weeks later, a state attorney general's report found that the Cuomo administration has significantly undercounted COVID-19 fatalities at nursing homes, with data from facilities revealing the actual number of deaths may be as much as 50% higher.

The claims of sexual harassment and inappropriate actions continued throughout the year, culminating with the details of an investigation into Cuomo released in August that found that he sexually harassed multiple current and former state government employees, according to state Attorney General Letitia James. The investigation, conducted by two outside lawyers, found that the Cuomo administration was a "hostile work environment" and that it was "rife with fear and intimidation."

Days later Cuomo had announced his resignation.

Things didn't get any better for Cuomo — or his brother — as the year came to a close.

On Dec. 4, CNN fired anchor Chris Cuomo, who had earlier been suspended, after new information emerged about how he assisted his brother, as Andrew faced sexual harassment allegations earlier in the year.

Ten days later, Andrew Cuomo was ordered by New York's ethics commission to give up millions of dollars a publisher paid him to write "American Crisis: Leadership Lessons from the COVID-19 Pandemic," a book about his response to the coronavirus pandemic. Cuomo was directed to turn over proceeds within 30 days under a resolution approved 12-1 by the Joint Commission on Public Ethics.

An attorney for Cuomo immediately called the action unconstitutional and promised a fight.

Hochul looks to retain her position entering 2022 and will face a primary race for governor that includes U.S. Rep. Tom Suozzi, a Democrat who represents Long Island, and Jumaane Williams, who serves as a citizen ombudsman in his elected office of New York City Public Advocate. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is also expected to enter the race.

TOP STORIES

The Gazette is counting down the biggest stories of 2021 through Dec. 31. The list so far:

—10 — New York legalizes marijuana

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