New York coronavirus testing sites were told to prioritize Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s inner circle, who were ‘treated like royalty,’ report says

Governor Andrew Cuomo
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

  • Gov. Cuomo’s friends and family reportedly received preferential COVID-19 testing early in the pandemic.
  • The Washington Post spoke to seven sources who explained how the priority system worked.
  • “Inner circle” members had their samples rushed to a lab by a state trooper and got faster results.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

New details are coming to light about how New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s friends and family reportedly received special treatment early in the coronavirus pandemic, when tests were scarce and took a long time for the general public.

Multiple sources told The Washington Post that people in the governor’s “inner circle” had their samples rushed by state troopers to the lab, where they were put on the top of the pile, and received results in a matter of hours, as opposed to the weeklong waiting times that the general public endured at the time.

“There is no reason why state testing teams should have been diverted to these people,” a person with knowledge of the priority list told The Post.

A nurse also described the frenzy that occurred when site leaders told workers that Cuomo’s extended family were arriving at their testing site in late spring 2020.

“I remember them being like, ‘They’re coming, they’re coming,’ ” the nurse said. “And they would say, ‘Have the state trooper ready … have it ready to go to Wadsworth [a state lab].’ There was a lot of anxiety over those samples getting to the right place.”

coronavirus testing
A nurse administers a COVID-19 test at a testing site in Suffolk County, New York, on December 18, 2020.

“They were treated like royalty,” the nurse added. “I didn’t understand why they were able to jump the line.”

Among those who received this kind of special treatment was the clothing and footwear designer Kenneth Cole, who is married to the governor’s sister Maria, one nurse told The Post.

The Post reported that Department of Health physician Eleanor Adams was also sent multiple times out to the Hamptons to test the governor’s brother, the CNN anchor Chris Cuomo, who announced last March he had tested positive for the coronavirus.

These visits to Chris Cuomo’s house sometimes lasted hours, at a time when Adams was in charge of coordinating testing issues for high-risk settings like nursing homes, two people familiar with the visits told The Post.

andrew cuomo kenneth cole
A 2005 photo of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (right) and his brother-in-law, the fashion designer Kenneth Cole.

Cuomo’s administration has denied that the governor secured priority treatment for his friends and family.

“There was no ‘VIP’ program as the Washington Post describes – when priority was given, it was to nurses, guardsmen, state workers and other government officials central to the pandemic response and those they were in direct contact with, as well as individuals believed to have been exposed to COVID who had the capability to spread it further and impact vital operations,” Cuomo spokesman Rich Azzopardi told The Post.

Azzopardi said that any priority system that was made, “was built by those in charge of running the sites and the Governor had no knowledge that tests were being prioritized at those sites.”

But one nurse’s account seemed to contradict this denial, saying: “We would always hear, ‘This is coming from the governor’s chamber.'”

chris cuomo andrew cuomo
Gov. Andrew Cuomo and his brother Chris Cuomo in 2015.

The governor’s office did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment on Tuesday morning.

While regarded as a hero for helping lead New York through the worst of the outbreak last year, Gov. Cuomo has now found himself at the center of multiple scandals, with members of his own party calling for him to resign.

In addition to the reports that his friends and family received preferential treatment during the pandemic, Cuomo is facing multiple accusations of sexual misconduct and a federal investigation on his office’s purported undercounting of New York’s nursing-home COVID-19 deaths.

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A billionaire pharma exec close to Andrew Cuomo also got priority access to early COVID-19 tests, report says

cuomo regeneron george yancopoulos
A composite image of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Regeneron president George Yancopoulos.

  • Cuomo is accused of giving relatives and top officials early access to COVID-19 tests last year.
  • The NYT reports that he also gave it to the president of Regeneron, a pharma company, last March.
  • Cuomo already faces accusations over nursing-home deaths, an unsafe bridge, and sexual assault.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office gave a billionaire pharmaceutical executive priority access to coronavirus tests early in the pandemic, The New York Times first reported.

It followed claims that Cuomo had secured access to scarce supplies for members of his family as well.

Regeneron, a biotech company headquartered in New York state, had asked state officials for tests for its president George Yancopoulos and his family after a member of his household got infected with COVID-19, in March 2020, a company representative told Insider in a Friday email.

According to the Times, state officials granted the request and the Yancopoulos family were tested at their home in March – a time when New York was fast becoming the US epicenter of the novel coronavirus, and tests were scarce.

“As an essential worker, he was leading and meeting regularly with his team, and this was to ensure he did not pose a risk to that research team, who were actively working on new COVID-19 treatments,” said the Regeneron spokesperson.

The Office of the Governor of New York state did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment for this story.

On April 1, Cuomo announced that Regeneron was donating 500,000 coronavirus test kits for New York state to help with the shortage of test kits and swabs at the time. Regeneron told the Times that Yancopoulos was not involved in that effort.

The Regeneron spokesperson told Insider that the test-kit donation was conducted by employees to “help their community during a really difficult and scary part of the pandemic,” adding: “It has absolutely nothing to do with Dr. Yancopoulos being tested for COVID after a known exposure, and frankly it is insulting to our team to imply as much.”

This the first known example of somebody with business interests with New York state getting priority access to COVID-19 tests, the Times said.

The story follows accusations this week that Cuomo arranged priority, state-administered coronavirus tests for his family and other top state officials who were working on the pandemic response.

According to the Albany Times Union, members of the governor’s family were tested several times at their homes, with test samples prioritized for processing.

Among the family members who received early coronavirus tests was the CNN anchor Chris Cuomo, the brother of Gov. Cuomo, who announced he had tested positive on March 31 last year.

CNN defended Chris Cuomo’s actions on Wednesday, saying he was “acting as any human would” in reportedly accepting help from his brother.

Top New York authorities reported to have received early coronavirus tests include Port Authority executive director Rick Cotton and Metropolitan Transportation Authority CEO Patrick Foye, per the Albany Times Union.

Foye and Cotton both announced they tested positive for the coronavirus last March, with Cotton telling The New York Times he was concerned about transmitting the virus to his staff.

It is illegal under New York law for officials or state employees to use their power to “secure unwarranted privileges” for themselves or others.

Cuomo’s office has hit back at this week’s accusations. In statements provided to Insider, officials said some testing was done at people’s homes but did not name them, citing privacy laws.

“We should avoid insincere efforts to rewrite the past,” said Rich Azzopardi, a senior advisor to Cuomo, in a statement to Insider’s Kelsey Vlamis.

“In the early days of this pandemic, when there was a heavy emphasis on contact tracing, we were absolutely going above and beyond to get people testing – including in some instances going to people’s homes, and door to door in places like New Rochelle – to take samples from those believed to have been exposed to COVID in order to identify cases and prevent additional ones.”

Cuomo and his office have been mired in scandals this year. His office has been accused of pressuring state health officials to undercount nursing-home coronavirus deaths last summer and operating a bridge deemed to be structurally unsafe. Nine women have accused Cuomo of sexual harassment and misconduct.

The New York State Assembly’s judiciary committee is leading an investigation into Cuomo’s impeachment. On Thursday, the committee said it would also examine the reports that his relatives were given preferential treatment for COVID-19 tests.

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CNN defended Chris Cuomo for using Andrew Cuomo’s power as New York governor to access COVID-19 tests when they were hard to find

andrew and chris cuomo cnn
Chris Cuomo (left) interviewing New York governor Andrew Cuomo (right) on CNN in May 2020.

  • CNN defended anchor Chris Cuomo from claims that he accepted favors from his brother.
  • Andrew Cuomo secured family members priority COVID-19 tests last year, according to a report.
  • CNN said Chris Cumo was concerned he might be contagious and was acting as anyone would.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

CNN has defended Chris Cuomo after allegations that his brother, Andrew Cuomo, used his authority as governor of New York to secure family members priority coronavirus tests last year.

In statement Wednesday, the network said that Chris Cuomo was acting “as any human being would” in allegedly accepting his brother’s help.

“It is not surprising that in the earliest days of a once-in-a-century global pandemic, when Chris was showing symptoms and was concerned about possible spread, he turned to anyone he could for advice and assistance, as any human being would,” said a spokesperson for the network told The Washington Post.

Cuomo, who has a primetime news show on CNN, has not personally commented on the allegation.

CNN did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for further comment on the claims.

On March 31 last year, Chris Cuomo announced that he had tested positive for the illness, and quarantined for several weeks afterwards. He did not reveal how he had obtained a test to learn of his diagnosis.

Andrew Cuomo is facing the greatest crisis of his political career over allegations he sexually harassed female colleagues, and concealing COVID-19 nursing home deaths.

Chris Cuomo has been criticised for a series of earlier softball interviews with his brother last year over his handling of the coronavirus.

As pressure on the governor mounted, Cuomo told his CNN audience that he would not cover news about his brother, but said that his colleagues at CNN would.

The statement defending Chris on the issue of the tests came after a report by the Albany Times-Union described how Andrew Cuomo and Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker arranged tests for Cuomo family members including his brother, mother, and sister in the early weeks of the pandemic.

At the time, tests were not widely available to the public.

According to the report, members of Cuomo’s family were tested several times at their homes, with samples from the tests bumped to the front of the queue for processing.

The governor’s office has denied the allegation that favoritism played a role in establishing who got the test.

“Among those we assisted were members of the general public, including legislators, reporters, state workers and their families who feared they had contracted the virus and had the capability to further spread it,” said the office.

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Gov. Cuomo is snowed under an avalanche of scandals as new reports claim he offered his family special access to COVID-19 tests at the height of the pandemic

andrew cuomo new york governor
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks during the daily media briefing at the Office of the Governor of the State of New York on July 23, 2020 in New York City.

  • New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has found himself embroiled in four major scandals in the early months of 2021.
  • The latest: It was reported Wednesday Cuomo arranged priority COVID-19 tests for his family.
  • The scandals have tarnished Cuomo’s image as a political star in the pandemic’s early days.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has had a bad year – and the hits just keep coming.

Cuomo – one of the few politicians who offered up a semblance of reassurance during the early days of the pandemic – is now watching his image and political career quickly erode.

Amid a slew of sexual assault allegations, a federal investigation into his administration’s undercounting of nursing home COVID-19 deaths, and reports of a structurally unsafe bridge named after his father, Cuomo now faces a fourth major controversy.

The third-term governor is accused of arranging special access to state-administered coronavirus tests for his own family members and other high-profile figures as the pandemic battered New York early last year.

According to The Washington Post, Cuomo’s administration dispatched a top doctor and other state health officials to his family member’s homes, including brother Chris Cuomo’s Hamptons home. The CNN anchor was diagnosed with COVID-19 last March.

The accusations of coronavirus testing corruption come on top of growing calls for his resignation, possible impeachment, and major staff departures in his administration – all since March began.

Cuomo first came under intense scrutiny earlier this year amid reports that his aides had pressured state officials to undercount the nursing-home death toll in a July report. The Federal Bureau of Investigation has launched an investigation into whether the governor and his advisors provided false numbers. And The New York Times reported last week that federal investigators had subpoenaed Cuomo’s office for documents regarding the data.

Next came the allegations of sexual harassment, inappropriate touching, and cultivating a toxic work environment. Since his first accuser came forward, eight additional women have made accusations against Cuomo, including three former aides to the governor as well as two journalists.

Then, two weeks ago, a Times Union report found the Mario Cuomo Bridge has “structural safety” issues that could lead to its collapse that the state had known about for years.

Cuomo has rejected calls to resign even as they come from top New York lawmakers, including his fellow Democrats, saying doing so would be “anti-Democratic.”

The recent wave of events represents a dramatic departure from the status Cuomo enjoyed last year, when many praised his handling of the pandemic and his daily press conferences, especially in contrast to those of former President Donald Trump.

Cuomo even published a book in October called “American Crisis: Leadership Lessons from the COVID-19 Pandemic,” praising his own coronavirus response and saying, “we have seen how the virus is confronted and defeated.”

But his self-aggrandizement was premature.

New York wouldn’t experience its peak number of daily cases for another three months, during the country’s third and worst surge in COVID-19 case numbers, though deaths in the state never again reached the highs of April 2020.

And just as the third surge began to wane in February, the tide started to turn for Cuomo. It hasn’t turned back since.

Read the original article on Business Insider

CNN anchor Chris Cuomo got special priority COVID-19 tests at his home in the Hamptons at the height of the pandemic, report says

chris cuomo andrew cuomo cnn
Chris Cuomo on Cuomo Prime Time Monday night

  • Gov. Andrew Cuomo gave his family special access to COVID-19 tests, The Washington Post reported.
  • Sources told The Post that CNN’s Chris Cuomo was one of the people who benefitted.
  • The state-administered tests reportedly took place in spring of 2020, when testing was scarce.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo gave his family and other high-profile people special access to coronavirus tests in the early days of the pandemic when most New Yorkers did not have access to them, sources told The Washington Post.

The Times Union also reported Wednesday that sources said state health officials were explicitly directed by Cuomo and Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker to prioritize Cuomo’s relatives and other influential figures for testing.

One of the people who is said to have benefitted? CNN anchor and the governor’s younger brother Chris Cuomo, who had COVID-19 in March of 2020.

The governor’s mother and at least one of his sisters were also said to have received priority testing, some multiple times, according to the Times Union.

State health officials visited the people’s homes to administer the tests, which were immediately processed in a state lab to quickly deliver results, three people with direct knowledge of the situation told The Post. The outlet said the lab was only equipped to process several hundred tests per day at the time.

Under New York law, it is illegal for officials or state employees to use their position “to secure unwarranted privileges” for themselves or others.

In statements provided to Insider, officials said some testing was done at people’s homes but did not name anyone specific, citing health privacy laws and ethics.

“We should avoid insincere efforts to rewrite the past. In the early days of this pandemic, when there was a heavy emphasis on contact tracing, we were absolutely going above and beyond to get people testing – including in some instances going to people’s homes, and door to door in places like New Rochelle – to take samples from those believed to have been exposed to COVID in order to identify cases and prevent additional ones,” Rich Azzopardi, a senior advisor to Cuomo, said.

“Among those we assisted were members of the general public, including legislators, reporters, state workers, and their families who feared they had contracted the virus and had the capability to further spread it,” the statement continued.

Sources told The Post Chris Cuomo was one of the people who received a test, with a New York Department of Health Doctor visiting the CNN anchor’s home in the Hamptons.

Gary Holmes, a New York State Department of Health spokesperson, did not provide names of people who received the tests, saying: “You’re asking professionals who took an oath to protect a patient’s privacy to violate that oath and compromise their integrity. More than 43 million New Yorkers have been tested, and commenting on any of them would be a serious violation of medical ethics.”

In a statement to Washington Post media critic Eric Wemple a CNN spokesperson said: “It is not surprising that in the earliest days of a once-in-a-century global pandemic, when Chris was showing symptoms and was concerned about possible spread, he turned to anyone he could for advice and assistance, as any human being would.”

Insider has reached out to Chris Cuomo and CNN for comment.

The accusations over priority testing are the latest in a string of scandals circling the third-term governor of New York in recent weeks. Cuomo has been accused of sexual misconduct and criticized for his handling of nursing homes in the pandemic. He has also been involved in bridge safety concerns.

Chris Cuomo has also received some criticisms for declining to cover his brother’s scandals, despite praising the governor and even interviewing him on his prime-time show last year over his handling of coronavirus.

Read the original article on Business Insider

The FBI is investigating whether Cuomo and his advisors undercounted COVID-related nursing home deaths

andrew cuomo
Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York at a news conference September 8, 2020, in New York City.

  • The FBI is investigating whether Cuomo and his aides provided false data on nursing home deaths.
  • People familiar with the probe told the NYT that the agency has subpoenaed Cuomo for documents.
  • The FBI has been examining Cuomo’s handling of nursing homes during the coronavirus pandemic.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation is trying to find out if New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and his advisors provided false numbers on the state’s nursing home deaths during the coronavirus pandemic to the Department of Justice last summer, according to a New York Times report on Friday.

Four people with knowledge of the probe told The Times that federal investigators have subpoenaed Cuomo’s office for documents regarding the data, reached out to lawyers for Cuomo’s aides, and spoken to officials from the state’s Health Department on the matter.

The investigation is part of the FBI’s broader examination of Cuomo’s handling of nursing homes as New York became a COVID-19 hotspot last spring. Cuomo has come under immense scrutiny in recent weeks amid reports that his aides pressured state health officials to undercount the nursing home death toll in a July report.

The DOJ in August requested that a handful of governors, including Cuomo, provide the agency with data on COVID-19 cases and deaths in nursing homes to see if an investigation is warranted. The demand came in response to Cuomo’s controversial March 25 order, which required nursing homes to admit patients with COVID-19 or patients who were suspected to have tested positive for the virus.

“Protecting the rights of some of society’s most vulnerable members, including elderly nursing home residents, is one of our country’s most important obligations,” then-Assistant Attorney General for DOJ’s Civil Rights Division Eric Dreiband said at the time. “We must ensure they are adequately cared for with dignity and respect and not unnecessarily put at risk.”

An outside lawyer representing Cuomo’s office in the federal investigation, Elkan Abramowitz, pushed back on the allegations. In a statement to The Times, he said that “the submission in response to DOJ’s August request was truthful and accurate and any suggestion otherwise is demonstrably false.”

Submitting false information to the DOJ could be a criminal offense, The Times reported.

Cuomo, once celebrated in the early days of the coronavirus outbreak, has faced criticism from both Democrats and Republicans for his COVID-19 policies concerning nursing homes. The new details on the FBI investigation also comes as Cuomo faces pressure to step down as governor after several women have accused him of sexual harassment. Cuomo has refused to resign.

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An Army lieutenant says New York Rep. Tom Reed sexually harassed her when she was a junior lobbyist

Tom Reed
Rep. Tom Reed, R-N.Y., speaks in the House.

  • A former lobbyist told the Washington Post that GOP Rep. Tom Reed sexually harassed her.
  • Nicolette Davis said a drunk Reed unhooked her bra and touched her thighs at a bar in 2017.
  • Reed, reportedly considering a run for New York governor in 2022, denied her account.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

An Army lieutenant and former lobbyist said that New York Rep. Tom Reed, a Republican reportedly considering a run for governor in the state, sexually harassed her when she was a junior lobbyist in 2017.

Nicolette Davis told the Washington Post that an intoxicated Reed touched her inappropriately and even unhooked her bra at a bar in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

“A drunk congressman is rubbing my back,” she texted to a friend and colleague at insurance company Aflac. “HELP HELP.”

Davis told the Post that Reed, who was seated to her left at the table both put his hand under her shirt, unhooked her bra with one of his hands, and rubbed her inner thigh with the other.

Reed flatly denied the allegations in a statement to the Post, saying, “This account of my actions is not accurate.” He told reporters on Capitol Hill, “we issued a statement” when pressed on it further on Friday.

Read more: AOC on running for House speaker, the Senate, or the White House: ‘That’s a lot to put on one person,’ she tells Insider

The Aflac coworker Davis texted, Jessica Strieter Elting, confirmed to the Post that Davis both texted her at the time and recounted more details when she returned, saying that Davis was “really shaken by it.”

Davis’ supervisor at the time, Aflac executive Brad Knox, also confirmed that Davis told him what happened when she got back from the trip, saying he offered her the option to file a complaint with the House Ethics Committee.

Davis is now a second lieutenant in the US Army who is set to graduate from field artillery school this month.

A number of Republican House Representatives from New York, including Reed, Rep. Elise Stefanik, and Rep. Lee Zeldin, are considering running for governor in 2022 as Gov. Andrew Cuomo faces scandals over his treatment of women staff and failures to report nursing home deaths, and post-2020 redistricting – which could cost New York up to two House seats – looming on the horizon.

Reed represents New York’s 23rd Congressional District, which encompasses a large swath of western New York stretching from Ithaca to the shores of Lake Erie, and has cultivated a profile as one of the more moderate GOP House members.

Reed also co-chairs the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus along with Democratic Rep. Josh Gottheimer of New Jersey. The group is comprised of over 50 moderate Democratic and Republican House members.

Reed has also been outspokenly critical of the Cuomo administration’s handling of COVID-19 cases in nursing homes in 2020 and has condemned Cuomo over the mounting allegations.

“Andrew Cuomo’s lies, harassment, and cover-ups must end. His ego and refusal to resign leave us with no choice but to remove him from office ourselves. Join me in calling for his impeachment and removal by signing your name right now,” Reed tweeted on Tuesday.

Cuomo has been publicly accused of sexual harassment by seven women, including three former aides who worked in the governor’s office in the past decade, a former staffer at the Department of Housing & Urban Development under the Clinton administration, when Cuomo led the department, a reporter who formerly covered Albany, and a woman who attended a wedding along with Cuomo in 2019.

Cuomo has refused calls for his resignation, and is remaining in office.

The allegations that Cuomo harassed female staff during his time as governor over the past decade are currently under investigation both in a probe overseen by the attorney general’s office and an impeachment investigation spearheaded by the judiciary committee in the state Assembly.

Attorney General Letitia James has selected two powerhouse attorneys, former federal prosecutor Joon Kim and civil rights lawyer Anne Clark, who specializes in employment discrimination, to conduct a fully independent investigation of the allegations with subpoena power.

Cuomo is accused by his own attorney general’s office of covering up the extent of nursing home deaths in New York from COVID-19 after his administration required nursing homes to take COVID-19 positive patients from hospitals.

A report from James accuses Cuomo of potentially undercounting nursing deaths by as much as 50% while shielding nursing homes from legal liability, a matter that is now under federal investigations.

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Gov. Andrew Cuomo kept a dartboard with NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio’s face on it, according to report

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New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D).

  • Andrew Cuomo had a dartboard with Bill de Blasio’s face on it in his pool house.
  • The new detail comes from a New Yorker report on Lindsey Boylan, a Cuomo accuser and former staffer.
  • The governor and mayor have been in a well-documented feud for years.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo had a dartboard with New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s face on it in the pool house at the governor’s mansion, according to The New Yorker.

This new detail comes from a Ronan Farrow investigation into allegations of sexual harassment and unwanted behavior against Cuomo, primarily told through his first accuser, Lindsey Boylan.

Boylan, a former Cuomo staffer who was introduced to him during her time as chief of staff at the Empire State Development agency, recalled seeing the dartboard at a party hosted at the governor’s residence in Albany.

The timing of the party was not specified, but it would have been sometime between 2016 and 2018 while Boylan was interacting with Cuomo more regularly.

“I couldn’t believe how brazen that was,” she told Farrow.

Cuomo and de Blasio have been in an ongoing feud ever since the mayor took office in 2014, although the pair have known each other ever since they both worked at the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) during the Clinton administration.

The feud often involved petty slights and contradictory messaging, but reporting by The New York Times and Wall Street Journal in the fall of 2020 found that their mutual animus and lack of coordination may have cost thousands of lives as COVID-19 ravaged the Big Apple before lockdowns went in place.

When Cuomo shot down de Blasio’s proposal of a “shelter in place” order for the city, the mayor reportedly asked a lawyer in City Hall whether he had the power to remove the governor from office, according to the Journal.

As more allegations emerged in the Cuomo sexual harassment scandal earlier this month, de Blasio called the governor’s alleged behavior “disgusting” and that “he can no longer serve as governor.”

Read the original article on Business Insider

Why Andrew Cuomo probably isn’t leaving anytime soon

andrew cuomo mask car
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo leaves Mount Neboh Baptist Church in Harlem after receiving the Johnson & Johnson vaccine there.

  • New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is trying to wait out the multiple scandals facing him.
  • He won’t rule out seeking a fourth term, which eluded his late father, former Gov. Mario Cuomo.
  • The governor is relying on strong support among Black voters and a $16.8 million campaign war chest.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has found a way to stick around – at least for now – by buying himself time and sitting on a more than $16 million campaign war chest.

On March 17, the 13th anniversary of former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer’s resignation, Cuomo was staring down the barrel of three simultaneous scandals, calls to resign from the Empire State’s two senators and most of its congressional delegation, an ongoing federal investigation into his handling of COVID-19 nursing home deaths, and the beginning of an all encompassing impeachment investigation.

Even as new allegations and more detailed accounts kept emerging, Cuomo refused to resign by blaming “cancel culture.”

Buying time

Unlike Spitzer, Cuomo let the negative press coverage and calls to step down drag out, maintaining a low profile by largely avoiding the press and on-camera appearances.

Yet five days later on Thursday, Cuomo was back on camera and laughing it up, flanked by a pair of former Mets and Yankees pitchers along with his daughter, Michaela Kennedy-Cuomo, at a closed press COVID-19 briefing.

The governor’s office did not open a conference call for reporters to dial in and ask questions, and while Cuomo has avoided in-person press events for weeks – citing “COVID-19 protocols” – several of his recent events have been crowded with masked attendees.

All of these decisions at Cuomo’s discretion have bought him time, with his official position remaining that New York Attorney General Tish James’s investigation should proceed and that lawmakers calling for his ouster “who don’t know a single fact but yet form a conclusion and an opinion are, in my opinion, reckless and dangerous.”

Impeachment remains a real possibility for Cuomo, with New York’s process closely resembling that of the US Congress.

However, a critical move by New York Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie this week bought Cuomo even more time.

Heastie, a Bronx Democrat, announced Wednesday that the white shoe law firm Davis Polk & Wardwell will handle the Assembly Judiciary Committee’s impeachment investigation. Critics quickly raised concerns over connections between the firm and Cuomo’s orbit, with its head of litigation married to the chief judge Cuomo appointed to the New York Court of Appeals.

Cuomo accuser and former staffer Lindsey Boylan called the Assembly investigation a “sham,” while the lawyer for Cuomo’s second accuser, former staffer Charlotte Bennett, described it as an “unacceptable conflict of interest.”

By delaying any articles of impeachment being drawn up and given the looming budget deadline of April 1, Heastie gave Cuomo time to regroup and test the legislature’s willingness to impeach him weeks or months down the line.

16.8 million reasons why Cuomo isn’t ruling out running for a 4th term

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New York Governor Andrew Cuomo receives a Covid-19 vaccine, at a church in the Harlem section of New York, on March 17, 2021.

Although Cuomo could have taken a lot of the heat off of him by promising not to run for reelection, he’s also refused to do that.

“Today is not a day for politics. I’m focused on my job,” Cuomo said on a recent conference call with reporters when asked if he would not run for a fourth term.

Crucially, Cuomo’s late father, Mario, was unable to secure a fourth term when he lost to George Pataki, a Republican who managed to win all but one county outside of New York City’s five boroughs.

During the height of his global popularity in the early stages of the pandemic, Cuomo got a fundraising boost and brought his cash on hand for 2022 up to $16.8 million.

Recent polling also bodes in Cuomo’s favor, with a majority of New Yorkers saying he should not step down and his approval remaining above 60% among Black voters, a crucial voting block for both the general election and any Democratic primary.

At the few televised events Cuomo has done over the past two weeks, he has been flanked by prominent members of the Black community in New York City and Long Island, from clergy leaders at the Javits Center’s mass vaccination site to former Yankees pitcher CC Sabathia in the governor’s Midtown Manhattan office on Thursday.

With strong support among the most consequential voting block in his party and a huge cash advantage over any potential challengers, Cuomo is calling the legislature’s bluff on impeachment and holding out for a slug fest of a reelection campaign.

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‘He’s got 3 major buckets of s— going on here’: Audio of a meeting with New York Dems reveals deep division in the state legislature over impeaching Cuomo

Andrew Cuomo resign billboard
A billboard urging New York Governor Andrew Cuomo to resign is seen near downtown on March 2, 2021 in Albany, New York.

  • Audio of a March 11 meeting obtained by Yahoo News revealed New York State Assembly members divided on Cuomo.
  • Some members pushed back on the decision to launch a probe instead of formal impeachment proceedings.
  • The investigation will be led by the New York State Assembly Judiciary Committee.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Audio of a March 11 video conference with New York Democrats revealed tension between state lawmakers on how to move forward amid Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s sexual misconduct scandal, Yahoo News reported Tuesday.

On March 11, New York State Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, a Democrat, discussed opening an investigation in the New York governor amid mounting claims of sexual misconduct from multiple women, according to the audio obtained by Yahoo News.

He described to his colleagues his reasoning behind his decision to launch a probe into the scandal instead of formal impeachment proceedings, Yahoo News reported.

“I try to come up with something that’s best for the body,” Heastie said during the meeting, according to the Yahoo News report. “Everybody might not love it, everybody may not like it, but I try to get us to a comfortable place that protects the integrity of this house.”

He maintained that launching an investigation first was by “due process,” saying that “people get accused of things.”

“These days any one of us in this place could be accused,” he said during the call, Yahoo News reported.

Assemblyman José Rivera agreed with Heastie, adding that, as elected officials, anyone on the New York Assembly could also be embroiled in a scandal.

Heastie later publicly announced an impeachment investigation soon after the meeting. The probe will be led by the New York Assembly Judiciary Committee, which will also look into allegations that the state under-reported COVID-19 deaths in nursing homes and scrutiny surrounding faults in a bridge construction project.

“He’s got three major buckets of s— going on here,” Assemblyman John McDonald said, according to the Yahoo News report. McDonald showed support for Heastie’s plan on the call, Yahoo News reported.

At one point during the call, Heastie acknowledged that the New York State Assembly remained divided on how best to move forward with the emerging scandal involving the governor – “those who want to leave it to state Attorney General Tish James to investigate Cuomo’s conduct, those who hope the governor will step down, and the group that wants to see him impeached,” according to the Yahoo News report.

Other members of the New York State Assembly pushed back on Heastie’s decision to open the impeachment probe instead of formal proceedings.

New York State Assemblyman Ron Kim echoed the sentiment on the call, according to Yahoo News, saying: “We have a moral duty, a constitutional duty, to remove him from office if he does not resign.”

“We can punt it, but everyone now is watching every single thing we do,” Kim, who is an outspoken critic of the New York governor, continued. “We can make excuses, we can do a number of different things, but we know what’s going on. We know what the truth is.”

However, Yahoo News reported that many on the call supported his decision to move forward with an investigation led by the New York Assembly Judiciary Committee.

Representatives from Heastie’s office and Cuomo’s office did not immediately respond to Insider’s requests for comment.

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