Cynthia Nixon is capitalizing on Gov. Cuomo’s all-male team hashing out New York’s sexual harassment laws

  • Four men are currently debating New York state’s new laws concerning sexual harassment, as part of the state’s $150 billion budget negotiations.
  • One of these men, state Sen. Jeff Klein, has himself been accused of sexual misconduct, and Democrats are up in arms.
  • “It’s the fox guarding the hen house,” said Alessandra Biaggi, who’s challenging Klein in his Democratic primary this year.

Four men are debating New York state’s new laws concerning sexual harassment, as part of the state’s $150 billion budget negotiations happening behind closed doors in Albany.

And one of the four men, state Sen. Jeff Klein, was himself accused of sexual misconduct earlier this year.

Despite the fact that the talks are being led by the state’s Democratic governor, many liberals, including Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s primary challenger Cynthia Nixon, are up in arms about the exclusion of women, and the inclusion of an alleged perpetrator.

Erica Vladimer, a former policy analyst and counsel in the senate, told the Huffington Post in January that Klein “shoved his tongue” down her throat while the two smoked outside a bar in Albany in March 2015.

Vladimer, 30, resigned from her post a month later and Klein, the leader of a breakaway group of eight Democrats who vote with Republican lawmakers, has “unequivocally” denied her allegations.

Nixon, the former “Sex and the City” star who’s spent the last decade advocating for progressive causes, seized the moment to attack the governor on his friendly relationships with Klein’s independent caucus (known as the IDC) and on his record on sexual misconduct issues.

Accusing Cuomo of “mansplaining and lecturing women on sexual harassment,” Nixon argued the governor’s “backroom deals” have corrupted the negotiation process.

“At a time when millions of women are making their voices heard, why should we settle for sexual harassment policies that are being discussed behind closed doors without a single woman present?” Nixon said during a press conference in Albany on Monday.

Alessandra Biaggi, former counsel to Cuomo who’s challenging Klein for his seat, called the negotiations “the epitome of corruption.”

“What is protecting this person and why is he still in the room for conversations that have to do with something he was accused of?” she told Business Insider of Klein. “It’s the fox guarding the hen house.”

Biaggi, who said she’s talking about sexual harassment and the allegation against Klein as much as she possibly can, argued that there are many qualified female lawmakers in Albany, including Democratic leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, who could be at the negotiating table. (The lawmaker has refused to say whether she’ll endorse Cuomo for re-election to his third term.)

When WNYC host Brian Lehrer asked Stewart-Cousins on Tuesday why all the women legislators in Albany aren’t “storming the governor’s mansion to get you in that room,” the lawmaker responded “old habits die hard.”

“There has never been a woman in the room,” she said.

Vladimer, who unexpectedly called into the radio show, added that the process of working out the details of the sexual harassment legislation “should not be rushed, let alone be done behind closed doors.”

“The reality is there have been an sickening number of incidents right here that have gone on for far too long,” she said.