The media turned New York’s Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo into “America’s governor.”
But at the moment, amid the growing scandal of the Cuomo administration’s deception on reporting COVID-related nursing home deaths, some important New Yorkers are beginning to disown him.
Nine state Assembly members, all Democrats, are calling on their colleagues in the state legislature to abandon Cuomo as the scrutiny of the scandal intensifies, according to media reports.
“We implore you to set aside any concerns of loyalty or disloyalty to this Governor, or that this matter is politicized. We must absolutely consider above all the sanctity of the democratic institution that we call the Legislature of the State of New York, and resolutely pursue justice in the face of an executive who we can say without hesitation has engaged in intentional criminal wrongdoing,” they wrote in a letter issued to other lawmakers on Tuesday.
The lawmakers accuse Cuomo of obstruction of justice in the letter. The document comes after one of Cuomo’s top aides admitted to Democrats in the Assembly that the administration withheld data on coronavirus deaths in nursing homes in the state as a precaution in case of a possible Department of Justice probe of those fatalities.
This deception was done, the letter said, “[i]n an attempt to circumvent a United States Department of Justice probe, and despite a joint hearing held by the State Legislature last August in which representatives of the Cuomo administration were compelled to testify and answer crucial questions to our body.”
The letter also stated that lawmakers should consider other actions against Cuomo, beginning with stripping him of emergency powers the Assembly granted las year, but also including “potentially the commencement of impeachment proceedings against Governor Cuomo.”
Fail to act, the lawmakers said, and “then we too shall be complicit along with this administration in the obstruction of justice and conscious omission of nursing homes death data.”
Yet the probe that Cuomo and his advisers thought they were avoiding is now taking shape.
The Albany Times-Union reported on Wednesday, “The FBI and the U.S. attorney’s office in Brooklyn have launched an investigation that is examining, at least in part, the actions of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s coronavirus task force in its handling of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities during the pandemic.”
The investigation “is apparently in its early stages and is focusing on the work of some of the senior members of the governor’s task force.” They include Linda Lacewell, Cuomo’s former chief of staff, and Melissa DeRosa, the senior adviser to Cuomo who recently issued he apology to lawmakers for misleading them on nursing home deaths.
Cuomo’s spokesman downplayed the report, telling the Times-Union that the feds had been looking into the matter “for months” and that the administration was cooperating.
But that came as news to many lawmakers.
On Tuesday, state Sen. Alessandra Biaggi tweeted, “No, @NYGovCuomo , you did not tell the *entire* Senate or Assembly that there was a DOJ investigation, as the reason why you didn’t share the nursing home numbers. I found out about a DOJ investigation with the rest of NY’ers in the @nypost story Thursday night.”
No, @NYGovCuomo , you did not tell the *entire* Senate or Assembly that there was a DOJ investigation, as the reason why you didn’t share the nursing home numbers.
I found out about a DOJ investigation with the rest of NY’ers in the @nypost story Thursday night.
— Alessandra Biaggi (@Biaggi4NY) February 15, 2021
Oddly, Cuomo still has the confidence of his constituents outside of the Assembly.
A Siena College poll released Wednesday revealed that “(v)oters approve the job Governor Andrew Cuomo is doing to address the coronavirus pandemic 61-34 percent, down slightly from 63-32 percent last month. On specific aspects of his handling of the pandemic, Cuomo gets positive grades for communicating with New Yorkers (67-33 percent) and providing accurate information (61-36 percent).” According to the poll, an astonishing 83 percent of New York Democrats support their governor.
But Siena College acknowledged that the poll wrapped up on Feb. 11, “prior to the most recent round of news coverage on Governor Cuomo and nursing homes.”
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