New York Governor Andrew Cuomo reportedly threatened to ‘destroy’ a Queens lawmaker after he refused to retract biting criticism of the state’s Covid-19 policies, also deploying an aide to “bad mouth” a sexual harassment accuser.
Assemblyman Ron Kim (D-Queens) told CNN on Wednesday that the governor called him last week to demand he issue a statement in support of his administration, immediately after reports that Cuomo’s team covered up its Covid-19 nursing home data to avoid handing a political win to then-president Donald Trump.
“At first, there was a silence on the phone,” Kim said. “Then the governor says, ‘Mr. Kim, are you an honorable man?’”
I can tell the whole world what a bad person you are and you will be finished… You will be destroyed.
A New York Post exclusive published on the same day showed that Cuomo’s top aide, Melissa DeRosa, had acknowledged the coverup during a Democratic Party meeting. Kim was quoted in the story, telling the Post it appeared DeRosa “admitted that they were trying to dodge having any incriminating evidence that might put the administration or the [Health Department] in further trouble with the Department of Justice.”
While Cuomo has since insisted that Kim was “misquoted” in the Post story – even alleging the assemblyman personally told him as much – Kim has thrown cold water on that claim, telling the outlet “There was no misquoting.”
At the time of the coverup last August, DeRosa said the administration stopped sharing nursing home data with lawmakers over fears Trump’s Justice Department would investigate Cuomo’s handling of the pandemic – namely his March order forcing nursing homes to accept Covid-positive patients despite the risk they posed to the facilities’ elderly residents.
Not long after Kim came forward with details of Cuomo’s call last Thursday, Lindsay Boylan – a former advisor to the governor who in December accused him of sexually harassing her for “years” – aired yet another charge against the administration.
“When I accused [Governor Cuomo] of sexual harassment he had [Rich Azzopardi] call around & bad mouth me,” Boylan said, referring to a senior Cuomo advisor.
He had loyalists try to intimidate me & anyone who has ever or does work for me. There is one mode with Cuomo and it is fear. I’m done with being afraid. Looks like others are too.
When I accused @NYGovCuomo of sexual harassment he had @RichAzzopardi call around & bad mouth me. He had loyalists try to intimidate me & anyone who has ever or does work for me. There is one mode with Cuomo and it is fear. I’m done with being afraid. Looks like others are too. https://t.co/gh3b5PJlh1
— Lindsey Boylan (@LindseyBoylan) February 17, 2021
Boylan cited a tweet by Post reporter Bernadette Hogan noting that Cuomo had acknowledged his call to the Queens assemblyman, suggesting she, like Kim, had been targeted with intimidation tactics.
A growing number of New Yorkers have demanded Cuomo’s resignation since last week’s revelation about the concealed nursing home data, which has also prompted at least 14 Democratic lawmakers to join Republicans in demanding the governor be stripped of his emergency pandemic powers.
Despite the many spirited bipartisan denunciations of Cuomo from state politicians, it appears few of those currently running for New York City mayor have felt inspired to weigh in on the nursing home scandal. On Tuesday, the Post asked City Comptroller Scott Stringer, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, ex-Civilian Complaint Review Board Chair Maya Wiley, failed Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang and former investment banker Ray McGuire – all NYC mayoral hopefuls – to comment on Cuomo’s coverup only to receive radio silence.
Spokespeople for former Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia and US Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan both called for an investigation, however, while Republican candidate Curtis Sliwa was much more forthcoming with his disdain.
“You can’t be mayor of New York City and be afraid of Cuomo,” Sliwa said.
They know he’s on the ropes… Show some chutzpah!
Cuomo has refused to apologize to the families of those who perished in nursing homes and long-term care facilities, vaguely blaming “politics” for the government’s botched pandemic response while calling the allegations against him “conspiracy theories.” The governor has also argued that a “second wave” of New York’s outbreak and its vaccine initiative consumed all health department resources and prevented a timely sharing of data – despite the purported coverup taking place in August, while the state’s first vaccine wasn’t available until late December.
More than 15,000 confirmed and presumed deaths have been tallied in connection to New York long-term care facilities amid the pandemic, most of them nursing home residents. The state has reported more than 1.5 million infections and some 46,000 fatalities since the outbreak kicked off last year, according to data gathered by Johns Hopkins University.
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