New York’s governor in 2018 threatened to compare an official who endorsed a primary challenger to child rapists, according to newly released audio of the call.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, told then-Working Families Party head Bill Lipton: “If you ever say, ‘Well, he’s better than a Republican’ again, then I’m going to say, ‘You’re better than a child rapist.’ How about that?”
Cuomo was furious that the party had endorsed actress Cynthia Nixon, who was challenging him in the gubernatorial Democrat primary.
After Cuomo triumphed over Nixon, the party opted to back him against Republican nominee Marc Molinaro.
Lipton responded to the governor by saying: “Governor, I apologize, but I got to clarify one thing. You’re free to say whatever you want, governor, but I just want to be clear. Our line is going to be that we have differences with you, but our differences with Republicans are far greater.”
Cuomo then said, “I think you’re better than a child rapist.”
The call was released by The New York Times.
Lipton confirmed to the New York Post that it was authentic.
Cuomo’s office didn’t return a request for comment, nor did the Working Families Party.
Rich Azzopardi, an adviser to Cuomo, told The Epoch Times in an emailed statement that the governor doesn’t recall the discussion.
“This three-year-old conversation happened after a very contentious political campaign where things were charged on all sides,” he said in a statement. “He doesn’t remember it occurring, but from how it has been described, he was clearly being hyperbolic to illustrate the offensive nature of the WFP’s own name-calling.”
Cuomo is facing pressure to step down from over 100 state lawmakers, including many Democrats, because of twin scandals. Eight women have accused him of sexual harassment, including at least one current aide, and his administration for months shielded from the public and state legislators data about nursing home resident COVID-19 deaths.
Cuomo, in his third term, has refused to resign.