“SANDREW” was the best couple. The gorgeous and warmth TV cooking-show star softened the gruff, hard-charging governor’s sharp edges. Her telegenic smile appeared to remodel his perpetual scowl.
Throughout their 14 years collectively Sandra Lee certainly not publicly criticized her life confederate, and Andrew Cuomo gushed regarding the “godsend” who helped him elevate his three daughters. When she turned sick with most cancers, he was seen as a loving fixture by her aspect.
In September 2019, the fairytale romance instantly unraveled and a disbelieving public clamored to know why. Now, as a tornado of sexual-harassment prices swirls spherical Cuomo, the first clues may be rising.
Lee, ever composed, stays outwardly stoic and above the fray — concurrently quite a few sources knowledgeable The Publish they imagine Cuomo was dishonest on her with a minimal of 1 staffer and possibly quite a few.
“Sandra’s gone silent and her silence is deafening,” acknowledged the insider. “The query is, is Sandra being silent out of grace and dignity, or is she being silenced out of worry of retaliation?” Lee didn’t comment.
Cuomo knowledgeable The Publish: “Any suggestion that I had a sexual relationship with any member of my workers or that I used to be untrue to Sandy is fake.”
Following the devastating breakup, Lee, 54, started a model new life in Malibu, Calif. She refused to speak to The Publish about her relationship with Cuomo, 63, or the ugly allegations which have led to a state investigation and requires impeachment.
Nonetheless, tales and investigations into whether or not or not Cuomo sexually harassed staffers in and throughout the office have raised questions on how his alleged conduct affected his last long-term relationship, and if his pursuit of various women may need contributed to the mysterious break-up.
The Publish moreover spoke to staffers who claimed that Lee was saved at arm’s-length whereas Cuomo frolicked with favored colleagues throughout the clock. And the allegations from female staffers of improper flirting, touching and suggestions going once more 21 years have raised questions on whether or not or not Cuomo was devoted all through his relationship with Lee.
“Andrew is poisonous. There’s clearly a purpose why Sandra moved to California — she actually couldn’t have moved farther away from Andrew. She’s on the sting of the Pacific,” the insider added.
A former senior Cuomo staffer acknowledged ominously: “Andrew’s therapy of Sandra is a part of the puzzle that may finalize the image about this man.”
Sources knowledgeable The Publish how Cuomo threw boozy occasions on the pool house throughout the governor’s mansion and “film nights” attended by female staffers, all with out Lee, who normally traveled to the West Coast to take care of her family.
Whereas it’s attainable that such events have been innocent — if awkward — morale-building exercise routines for the quite a few staffers (male and female) in attendance, these particulars type part of the pattern that emerged after former staffers spoke out about inappropriate conduct the place strains between Cuomo’s private and expert lives turned blurred.
5 former Cuomo staffers knowledgeable The Publish they’re glad he turned involved, or pursued intimate relationships, with a small number of staffers whereas residing with Lee.
“It was an open secret,” acknowledged one ex-aide. “Andrew was sleeping with at the very least one different lady who wasn’t Sandra” sooner than they formally ended their relationship.
A second former staffer knowledgeable how State Troopers who received right here to pick out up Cuomo one morning on the home Cuomo and Lee shared in Mount Kisco, Westchester, have been stunned to see him go away the house with a staffer. Requested if it was attainable that that they had been working, the earlier staffer acknowledged it was unsure: “There was no purpose for this lady to be there so early.”
Cuomo, by a spokesman, denied any staffer ever spent the night on the Mount Kisco house, saying that usually staffers would meet him on the house throughout the morning in order that they may be part of his entourage for a expertise to an event or assembly.
Staffers moreover raised questions on Cuomo’s journey preparations. When Cuomo traveled to Jerusalem in March 2017, a third former staffer claimed the governor and a female staffer have been booked into linked, adjoining rooms. Though this may need been absolutely innocent, the availability acknowledged suspicions have been raised when official logs have been modified to point a State Police officer staying throughout the adjoining room.
Cuomo claims this was accidental.
“On journeys, as a rule, solely State Police safety or advance workers have been assigned to adjoining rooms with the governor — after I noticed that the lodge had made a room task not retaining with that rule, I switched rooms in order that I used to be within the adjoining room and the opposite workers individual was moved throughout the corridor,” acknowledged Steve Cannon, who was the lead advance explicit individual on March 2017 Israel journey.
Cuomo denied any liaisons all through the Israel journey, and his spokesman equipped a busy journey itinerary that confirmed Cuomo had almost no free time.
Nevertheless, the doc confirmed that he had a room on the King David Lodge, and a scheduling gap between a 7 p.m. assembly with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his 12:45 a.m. flight home. Cuomo’s workplace claimed the extra time was spent with Israeli media. The Israel part of the weekly schedule — in distinction to completely different days of the week the place every event or assembly appeared with an inventory of names of staffers present — fails to file any member of his entourage.
And it wasn’t merely geographical distance that may have pushed Lee and Cuomo apart. Through the connection, former staffers described how Cuomo would inform his workplace to not let Lee know the place he was as he beloved drinks late at night at Docks, a seafood restaurant within the similar developing as a result of the governor’s Midtown workplace, with senior female employees. After stepping into by a once more door important from the workplace developing to a private room, Cuomo would keep court docket docket, in response to the earlier staffers.
The flood of accusations from former staffers accusing Cuomo of inappropriate conduct in social conditions (which he largely denies) raises questions on whether or not or not any of these around the clock interactions led to romantic relationships.
Cuomo is notoriously secretive about his life and tightly controls what’s revealed about his private and dealing relationships, as evidenced by his persevering with use of a BlackBerry, sources acknowledged. Even though Cuomo’s workplace launched in November 2019 that staffers’ BlackBerrys have been being phased out for iPhones, the governor nonetheless makes use of 1. In keeping with Politico, Cuomo hottest BlackBerry’s PIN-to-PIN messaging system to steer clear of paper trails. A former staffer knowledgeable The Publish: “Andrew was extraordinarily security-conscious; if he was doing something, you wouldn’t be capable to discover it out.”
Other than the suspicion of romantic relationships, Cuomo moreover cultivated a “imply ladies” setting inside his workplace the place he allowed his employees to make gratifying of Lee — and impressed them to cowl his calendar from her and forestall her from turning into a member of him at events.
Former aide Ana Liss, one in every of many parade of Cuomo accusers — who knowledgeable The Wall Road Journal how the governor “requested her if she had a boyfriend, referred to as her sweetheart, touched her on her decrease again at a reception and as soon as kissed her hand when she rose from her desk” — confirmed to The Publish that Lee was deliberately avoided Cuomo’s diary by staffers, along with excessive current aide Melissa DeRosa and current Director of the Governor’s Workplaces Stephanie Benton.
“My understanding is that Sandra was considered . . . as merely an adjunct,” she acknowledged.
Cuomo’s workplace countered that “the workplace e-mailed Sandra a schedule every evening of the governor’s actions for the next day.”
Liss continued, “I do know from my time working there that Sandra was very clearly avoided Andrew by the fogeys controlling his schedule. She was solely launched forth in public on certain explicit occasions. Given the dearth of frequency of their time spent collectively publicly and privately, it had a performative nature about it. It felt like watching Princess Diana. She [Sandra] is a stupendous, statuesque lady who complemented the governor’s gruffness.
“She by no means stayed on the mansion that I used to be conscious of,” acknowledged Liss, who added that it “did strike me as odd that he was hardly ever at house along with her.”
Cuomo spokesman Richard Azzopardi acknowledged Lee did really spend time on the Albany mansion, merely as Cuomo spent a great deal of time at Lily Pond, the colonial-style Westchester property the place Lee had made a home for them. Azzopardi added that Cuomo didn’t have a Manhattan home. Liss countered that Cuomo normally stayed at inns in Manhattan.
“It was Sandra’s endlessly house, her dream house,” Liss acknowledged. “However as a workers member for 2 years, I monitored Andrew’s schedule every single day, to know what he was doing and centered on. He spent most of his time in Manhattan.”
Throughout scheduling calls, the ex-senior staffer recalled, “I might ask whether or not Sandra was happening a visit with Andrew, and all of the imply ladies like Stephanie Benton and [current Cuomo director of scheduling] Annabel Walsh would begin laughing and say nothing. They might be rolling their eyes.”
One of many last cases “that Sandra attended an event with Andrew was the Satisfaction Parade throughout the metropolis in June 2018. She beloved coming and it was a extraordinarily important event to her.
“And folk from the workplace have been hostile, they fully ignored her. She had her shades on the whole time and appeared so sad.
“Andrew humiliates individuals, a method or one other.”
Walsh and Benton didn’t return messages trying to find comment.
The Governor’s Workplace denied Sandra was ill-treated by employees. “Sandra was very a lot a part of the household and the workplace has nothing however respect for her,” Azzopardi acknowledged.
Away from Lee, Cuomo threw pool bashes that Liss described as turning into nights of boozing, although Cuomo’s rep stresses that the governor doesn’t drink.
Talking regarding the pool-house occasions, the earlier senior staffer acknowledged: “I attended them, You needed to go — it was an indication you have been senior within the administration.”
Though the staffer certainly not seen any sexual train, she found the affiliation uncomfortable. “They’ve been so awkward, everyone standing spherical like court docket docket jesters, and Andrew will be watching you, he had a photographer there, though it was primarily an internal employees assembly — it was creepy previous notion.
“And I’m sure that the identical assortment of individuals — his favorites — slept over there. Think about how that appears to the remainder of the workplace.”
On one occasion, Cuomo invited 4 female staffers to a movie-night sleepover on the mansion, the ex-senior staffer acknowledged.
Azzopardi acknowledged any informal gatherings on the governor’s mansion, whether or not or not inside watching movies or having a meal and drinks throughout the pool house, have been family-friendly and co-ed and certainly not resulted in firm staying the night.
Regardless of the extracurricular actions and the pattern of questionable conduct at work alleged by at the very least seven women, Cuomo was famously portrayed as a result of the doting boyfriend when Lee was recognized with breast most cancers in 2015 and underwent a grueling double mastectomy.
Privately, those who labored for him contemplated whether or not or not he was merely using his confederate’s illness as a publicity stunt.
Cuomo even appeared carrying a masks and scrubs alongside Lee, who documented every aspect of her illness — from evaluation to surgical process and restoration — on digital digital camera for her HBO documentary “Rx: Early Detection, A Most cancers Journey with Sandra Lee.”
“After Sandy determined to make her breast-cancer prognosis public, she and the governor vowed to struggle for New York households collectively — it was a very painful time for the whole household and for somebody to attempt to distort that’s simply fallacious,” acknowledged Azzopardi.
In his 2014 e book, “All Issues Potential: Setbacks and Success in Politics,” Cuomo gushed about Lee, writing: “Why she received concerned with me I don’t know. I used to be not a lot of a catch. However Sandy was. Sensible, profitable and beautiful, she had launched her flagship present, ‘Semi-Selfmade Cooking with Sandra Lee,’ a number of years earlier. She has monumental attraction to viewers and to readers of her books and journal, who lead busy lives and to place good meals on the desk rapidly. No advertising gimmick, her ‘good and easy’ strategy grew out of her hardscrabble beginnings: the eldest of 5 kids, with an abusive mom and stepfather, Sandy needed to store and cook dinner for the family and handle her siblings — on welfare and meals stamps — beginning when she was 12 . . . greater than a catch, Sandy was a godsend.”
He moreover praised her for being “an exquisitely type, loving and nurturing individual with an unusual capacity to attach with individuals. She was adept at taking good care of three younger ladies as I used to be not. My kids took to her instantly, and as they’ve grown older, she has been a big presence of their lives. We’ve got made a household.”
Liss acknowledged of probably the most cancers drama: “By that point, I wasn’t working within the Governor’s Workplace, however these of us not there who have been nonetheless in contact speculated that he was utilizing it as a p.r. stunt, one thing so as to add to his credibility as a person and politician who’s a proclaimed feminist — regardless that internally throughout the office that he oversaw he was very a lot not pro-woman.”
An insider close to the couple seen of Cuomo’s office conduct: “If somebody acts this badly within the workplace 12 hours a day, how do they arrive house and switch into Mr. Great except they’re Jekyll and Hyde?”
Cuomo’s latest accuser, Sherry Vill, acknowledged Cuomo forcibly kissed her cheeks and made her uncomfortable whereas inspecting flood hurt at her home. Different accusations differ from groping a girl beneath her shirt and planting undesirable kisses, to asking inappropriate questions on intercourse and relationship.
The Democratic governor has acknowledged he “by no means touched anybody inappropriately” and “by no means made any inappropriate advances,” and that no person ever knowledgeable him on the time that he was making them uncomfortable. He has known as some allegations false nevertheless apologized if his overly acquainted conduct made anyone actually really feel uncomfortable.
Cuomo has moreover urged that he was merely being an old-school politician in greeting of us with hugs and kisses — and that “sensitivities” have modified.
An investigation into the sexual-harassment allegations is for the time being being led by attorneys Joon Kim, a former prosecutor with the US Lawyer’s Workplace for the Southern District of New York, and Anne Clark, an employment-discrimination authorized skilled. The duo was chosen by state Lawyer Normal Letitia James, a Cuomo ally, to steer the probe.
Lee and Cuomo first met in 2005 whereas firm at a cocktail event on the Hamptons home of Domna Stanton, a French professor on the Metropolis College of New York, and have been launched by one amongst Lee’s most interesting mates, political adviser Alexandra Stanton, as Nancy Pelosi appeared on.
Although they’ve been immediately smitten, they’ve been each finalizing their respective divorces: Cuomo to Kerry Kennedy, the mother of his three daughters, and Lee to Bruce Karatz, the earlier CEO of KB Dwelling. Karatz was 22 years Lee’s senior and in 2010 he was convicted of lying regarding the backdating of inventory selections on the LA-based homebuilder company. Apart from house arrest at his Bel Air mansion, Karatz was sentenced to five years’ probation, fined $1 million and ordered to do 2,000 hours of neighborhood service.
Mates of Kerry Kennedy spoke of “cases of bodily abuse” throughout the marriage sooner than they divorced in 2005, in response to an author who printed a e book on Cuomo.
Michael Shnayerson, a journalist and contributing editor with Vainness Truthful, claimed that Kennedy, daughter of Robert F. Kennedy, slept in a locked bathroom quite a few nights after Cuomo refused to go away the house when she knowledgeable him she wished a divorce.
“I’ve been a human-rights activist, and for girls who’ve abusive husbands,” Kennedy allegedly knowledgeable a pal, “and right here I’m enduring this abuse.”
Shnayerson moreover claimed Cuomo tried to punish Kennedy after the divorce was launched by leaking tales to the press about how she had an affair with a ‘Republican polo participant’ so that most of the people would blame her, and the break up wouldn’t harm his political profession.
As a pair, Cuomo and Lee maintained a low-key profile. She didn’t advertising marketing campaign with him in his race for governor in 2010, they usually appeared collectively solely typically at official events. She outlined their public shyness as a fashion of guarding their privateness. “I’ve a accomplice,” she knowledgeable Harper’s Bazaar in 2011, “who feels the exact same method as I do about defending our private relationship.
“Greater than something now, I really feel actually fortunate to have a relationship that’s simply mine and that I get to go house to, that’s a secure haven, and that I’ve one thing that’s not the entire world’s, too,” she acknowledged.
Lee — who has no kids of her private — cherishes her relationships with Cuomo’s daughters, Mariah, Cara and Michaela Kennedy-Cuomo.
Lee and the women grew so shut that she continues to verify with them as her “weekend daughters.” They each had their very personal bedrooms at Lily Pond, the home Lee owned outright.
“I like Andrew’s ladies,” Lee advised Web page Six final month.
Lee and Cuomo certainly not wed, nevertheless Lee dutifully threw herself into the perform of political “spouse.”
“Sandra was reluctant to be New York’s first girl, however she did it and put her all into it and invested herself into New York philanthropy,” the insider who’s conscious of the couple acknowledged.
“And over time her All-American picture helped soften his Prince of Darkness picture statewide and on the nationwide stage.”
Recalling Cuomo’s relationship with Lee, Liss — who not too way back met with investigators from the state AG’s Workplace — acknowledged: “Of the handful of interactions I had with Sandra, I assumed that she was beautiful. She all the time had her fingers on the governor in such a means that I felt that she was enamored of him.”
At home in California, Lee has spent the earlier 12 months engaged on new TV duties and dealing alongside important networks, whereas touring to Arizona to take care of her beloved Uncle Invoice, who has merely battled COVID.
Her Fb web page is filled with followers telling her they’re glad she purchased out of her relationship with Cuomo and telling her to hunt out new love.
Ex-TV exec Rob Morhaim, who has acknowledged Lee for 20 years, acknowledged Lee will local weather this storm like she has all the others.
“Sandra’s a robust lady. No matter she’s going by means of, I doubt you’ll ever see her sweat,” he acknowledged.