Governor Cuomo’s top aide revealed Wednesday that she was repeatedly sexually abused by politicians, including a top Democrat.
Melissa DeRosa, who serves as Cuomo’s chief of staff, claims that a prominent Democratic “national leader in progressive politics” tried to rape her.
Nypost.com reports: “So let’s start with the truth. Sexism and misogyny is alive and well,” De Rosa said in a speech at a “Women in Media” event sponsored by Berkeley College in Manhattan.
De Rosa said the first incident of sexism sticks out in her mind. She was only 25 and working at the Albany-based lobbying firm Cordo & Company.
“I was listening in on a conference call but the other participants did not know I was on the line. When my boss said `Melissa DeRosa in my office will be taking the lead on the press for the project”, a man on the other end of the phone said, ‘She can take the lead right up to my hotel room.’”
“The man who said that is now a national leader in progressive politics,” De Rosa said.
She also recalled a more recent incident of sexism.
“Just this past weekend, when asked to return a phone call on behalf of the governor to a Democratic member of the assembly, the legislator told me he really needed to talk to the governor you know `man to man,’” she said.
“For the record, I hung up on him; I may not be a member of the Assembly, but I won’t be talked to that way.”
And then there was a spat DeRosa said she had earlier this year over Twitter with a state senator. She didn’t mention his name but she was referring to Utica-area Sen. Joseph Grifo.
It was picked by The Post and other media when she accused Grifo of sexism.
“When things got heated he shot back with, `Your father taught you better,’” she said.
DeRosa’s father is Georgio DeRosa, a top Albany lobbyist.
“I tortured myself for hours on whether or not to answer—I knew it could be a news story and a distraction, but I could not let it go. His comments ate at me all day. And so, I responded, calling out what was in my view ‘condescending sexism’, and challenging whether or not a middle-aged man in my position would have received the same lesson in manners,” she said.
“My response made waves. But let’s take a moment on that — no one blinked when a male state senator lectured the governor’s female chief of staff saying that ‘my father taught me better,’ but my shot back wasn’t to be tolerated.”
She noted that a spokeswoman for the New York State GOP said that it was DeRosa who disrespected a senator.
DeRosa started her career interning with the AFL-CIO. At 19, she also interned for then-Sen. Hillary Clinton’s political action committee.
After graduating from Cornell University, DeRosa, then 26, served as as New York State Director of President Obama’s political organization.
At 28, she was the deputy chief of staff to state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman before joining the Cuomo administration.
At 34, she was the youngest person appointed secretary to the governor, which made her his chief of staff.