A former top adviser to New York Gov. Kathy Hochul had a history of sexual harassment complaints against him from women in a previous workplace, the New York Times has reported.
Adam Sullivan, who oversaw Hochul’s 2022 gubernatorial campaign, stepped aside Sunday from his role advising the governor and her political operation, according to the Times.
On Wednesday, the Times reported Sullivan had been fired from a previous position at the Hub Project, a small Democratic advocacy group, amid sexual harassment complaints from colleagues. Hochul said she did not know about the allegations made against Sullivan until it was reported in the Times earlier this week.
“In the case of Adam Sullivan, sexual harassment is absolutely unacceptable under all circumstances, there is no tolerance,” Hochul said to reporters following an unrelated event in Manhattan on Thursday.
“My staff had told me that they were contacted by the New York Times so they alerted there would be an article in a few hours, that’s when I found out about the allegations and what the women are saying happened and I believe the women,” she added.
CNN has reached out to Sullivan for comment but has not heard back. In response to a list of questions from the Times, Sullivan emailed a one-line statement: “I apologize to anyone I made uncomfortable at any point.”
A spokesperson at The Hub Project referred CNN to the New Venture Fund, an umbrella organization which “serves as a fiscal sponsor and handles all HR and compliance matters.”
The New Venture Fund told CNN on Thursday, “New Venture Fund’s policy is to expediently, thoroughly and fairly investigate claims of impropriety among its staff.” It added, “In strict adherence to the policy, New Venture Fund investigated the allegations immediately, and subsequently terminated the employee.”
Behavior reportedly belittled subordinates, particularly young women
Hochul said she first met Sullivan when she ran for Congress in 2011 and that he had been recommended to her by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. Because she had worked with him in the past, she said, she did not conduct a thorough review of his work before hiring him to work on her campaign for governor.
“He worked as a manager on my campaign and so I knew him back in that environment. So to then think I have to ask for a resume and got through a whole new process later for campaigns that wasn’t what I was doing. Had I known then what I know now, there would have been very different circumstances,” Hochul said.
After previously working on her congressional campaign, Sullivan – while based in Colorado – was hired to run Hochul’s successful 2022 gubernatorial campaign.
While serving as lieutenant governor, Hochul took over the governorship in 2021 after her predecessor, Gov. Andrew Cuomo, resigned following a state attorney general’s investigation that found he sexually harassed multiple women.
On Sunday, the Times reported that in an email to colleagues, Mr. Sullivan resigned and apologized for behavior that included belittling and marginalizing his subordinates and said he and the governor agreed he should relinquish his responsibilities “for the foreseeable future.”
The Times reported it spoke to more than 15 colleagues who said Sullivan had disparaged subordinates, especially young women, froze out aides who disagreed with him and often shifted blame to others when the campaign faltered.
Hochul told CNN on Sunday, “I was disappointed by what was described in the New York Times story about Adam, and he and I agreed that he should step back.”
In March 2022, Hochul signed legislation “to address workplace harassment and discrimination.” The legislation was signed at a Women’s History Month celebration with advocates for gender equity and women’s rights.
At the time, Hochul said, “From day one, it has been one of my top priorities to clean up Albany, change a culture of harassment and abuse, and ensure safe, respectful workplaces.”
She added, “Everyone has the right to a workplace free of unlawful discrimination and harassment, and I will never stop fighting for gender equity. While there’s more work to be done, I am proud of the steps we are taking to promote safety, dignity, and respect for all New Yorkers.”