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.
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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.

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Cuomo aide, who is accused of helping cover up nursing-home death tolls, was once a professor of ethics in government

linda lacewell cuomo
Linda Lacewell, right, after testifying at a bribery trial in Manhattan on January 24, 2018.

  • Linda Lacewell, a top Cuomo aide, is accused of covering up the number of New York’s nursing-home deaths.
  • Lacewell was previously Cuomo’s Chief of Staff and oversaw “ethics and law enforcement matters.”
  • She also taught classes on ethics in government at New York University’s School of Law.
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One of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s senior aides who faces allegations involving the nursing-home death toll cover-up previously taught classes on ethics in government, legal news website Law & Crime reported.

Linda Lacewell, the head of New York’s Department of Financial Services, is one of the three top aides accused of changing a report to conceal the real number of deaths in the state’s nursing homes during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to The New York Times.

The Cuomo administration publicly cited figures that were roughly 50% lower than the real death toll, The Times reported.

Lacewell, who formerly served as Cuomo’s Chief of Staff, is one of the officials who is alleged to have directed the removal of COVID-19 deaths from the report, the New York Post reported.

The allegations are at odds with Lacewell’s background in ethics. She oversaw “ethics and law enforcement matters” while acting as Cuomo’s Chief of Staff, according to her biography on the New York State website.

Lacewell was also a professor of ethics for several years. While serving as an adjunct professor at New York University School of Law, Lacewell taught a class called “Ethics in Government: Investigation and Enforcement.”

In response to questions from Law & Crime about Lacewell’s involvement in rewriting the report, the website was directed to two statements that assert that the true number of deaths in nursing homes was omitted due to verification issues.

“The out-of-facility data was omitted after Department of Health could not confirm it had been adequately verified,” Special Counsel and Senior Advisor to Cuomo, Beth Garvey, said in the statement.

“Task Force Members, knowing the report needed to withstand rigorous public scrutiny were very cautious to not overstate the statistical analysis presented in the report,” Garvey added.

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