By Ryan Teague Beckwith and Keshia Clukey
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, lower than a yr after bravura performances in every day coronavirus briefings led to speak of a presidential run, as an alternative finds himself dealing with a number of scandals and rumblings of a main problem.
Revelations that his administration hid the quantity of individuals who died from the coronavirus in nursing houses, and by doing so underreported New York’s dying toll, undercut his central declare to fame and have led to efforts to strip him of pandemic-era emergency powers.
They’ve additionally raised questions on Cuomo’s management, particularly after a Democratic state assemblyman accused him of threatening to destroy the lawmaker’s profession for elevating questions concerning the subject.
Add to which might be two allegations of sexual harassment. In the primary occasion, Lindsey Boylan, a former economic-development aide, accused Cuomo in a Medium put up of giving her an undesirable kiss, inviting her to play strip poker on a taxpayer-funded flight, and different abuse that led her to give up her job.
On Saturday, a second former aide accused Cuomo of harassment, in keeping with the New York Times. Charlotte Bennett, a former well being coverage adviser, stated Cuomo had requested her questions on her intercourse life and made what she interpreted as sexual overtures. Bennett didn’t instantly reply to a request for remark from Bloomberg News.
Cuomo has denied his name to Assemblyman Ron Kim was threatening, and rejected the harassment allegations as false. Four different state officers who flew with Cuomo when Boylan was current issued a press release by Cuomo’s workplace saying no such dialog occurred.
In a press release on Saturday, Cuomo stated he had “tried to be supportive and helpful” when Bennett “opened up about being a sexual assault survivor.” Cuomo known as for “a full and thorough outside review.” A former federal choose has been named to guide that course of.
The cascading incidents add to the political weight round Cuomo’s neck. In a press release on Saturday, Republican Representative Elise Stefanik of New York known as for Cuomo to resign.
The controversy for Cuomo, 63, comes after a protracted profession that features stints as a U.S. Cabinet official, state lawyer basic, and three phrases as governor.
The evaluations had been glowing for Cuomo within the early months of the pandemic, for his must-see briefings and heated rebukes of then-President Donald Trump’s dealing with of the pandemic. The hashtag #PresidentCuomo was trending whilst Joe Biden was struggling to marketing campaign underneath pandemic restrictions.
But lately, State Attorney General Letitia James launched a report on Jan. 28 alleging the Cuomo administration undercounted Covid-19 deaths in nursing houses by as a lot as 50%, and will have obscured information out there to evaluate the chance to sufferers.
The state revealed that hundreds of nursing-home deaths occurred in hospitals or exterior the services, info that had been overlooked of state counts. More than 12,300 sufferers from New York nursing houses, assisted dwelling, and grownup care services have died since March 2020, in keeping with Feb. 25 state information. Another 3,000 sufferers are presumed to have died of the illness, however their causes of dying haven’t been confirmed.
New York trails solely California for the whole quantity of individuals who have died from coronavirus, with 46,000, however its present case price per million residents is within the center of U.S. states.
Now Cuomo is dealing with intense questions over whether or not his administration’s insurance policies led to an pointless enhance of virus deaths amongst aged nursing residence residents.
Rich Azzopardi, Cuomo’s spokesman, rejected the criticism in an emailed assertion.
“New Yorkers know it was the governor who worked night and day to get them through the worst of this pandemic,” Azzopardi stated. “From the strongest gun safety laws in the nation to a $15 minimum wage and free college tuition, he has a nationally significant record of progressive accomplishments that Washington is trying to match.”
Still, Democratic circles are already abuzz with discuss about who would possibly run in opposition to Cuomo within the 2022 main, an unthinkable idea when he was topping the charts for his Covid response. There’s no restrict to the quantity of consecutive phrases a New York governor might serve.
New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, who’s been approached to run in opposition to Cuomo in a main, stated he’s been fairly specific along with his criticism of Cuomo’s dealing with of the pandemic and his administration’s efficiency.
“As I’ve said, the governor has earned himself a primary for a number of reasons — most of which we’ve known about for a long time, but now the worst of the governor is coming out at a time when New Yorkers need the best of their government,” he stated in an emailed assertion. Williams stated he stays dedicated to his metropolis put up.
Hank Sheinkopf, a veteran Democratic marketing consultant who labored on some of Cuomo’s campaigns, known as the governor’s downfall “Shakespearean.”
“The compassionate new Andrew that was created suddenly became a fraud,” he stated. “The very thing that made him the hero made him the villain.”
At the start of the pandemic, when New York was the nation’s Covid epicenter, Cuomo held every day briefings that had been aired nationally. He shared information, he answered reporters’ questions, he instructed tales about his household.
The briefings, a stark distinction to the tone and substance to these coming from Trump’s White House, drew thousands and thousands of viewers, incomes him the nickname “America’s Governor.”
In October, Cuomo launched a e-book providing management classes from the pandemic, and held up New York’s response as a nationwide mannequin. The subsequent month, his televised briefings obtained an Emmy award.
That was untimely, stated New York state Senate Minority Leader Robert Ortt, a Republican.
“As we learn more, I think history may tell a different story about this response and we may look at this years from now or even months from now and we may have a different view,” Ortt stated. “It’s not the person who’s winning in the first quarter, it’s the person who’s winning in the fourth quarter.”
Cuomo’s job efficiency ranking, which hit 63% on the top of the pandemic, has cooled to 56%, in keeping with Siena College polls. A Marist ballot launched Feb. 23 confirmed approval of his dealing with of the pandemic had dropped to 54% from 72%, with a majority of voters saying Cuomo did one thing unsuitable in his dealing with of nursing houses.
‘No Heart or Ears’
Critics have seized on the second, although the approval numbers are hardly deadly. Bills that try and strip Cuomo’s emergency powers have did not take maintain as lawmakers fear concerning the fallout from revoking his authority.
State Senator Gustavo Rivera, a Democrat who heads the well being committee, stated he and different lawmakers have lengthy criticized the governor, particularly for conserving his internal circle small and what he stated was a give attention to politics over coverage. Rivera described the administration as “all brain and guts, and no heart or ears.”
Sheinkopf stated Cuomo’s troubles present that the high-profile job of governor of New York — the launching pad to the White House for 4 presidents, most lately Franklin D. Roosevelt — has turn out to be too politically fraught to result in increased workplace.
The final Democratic governor of New York who was thought-about a critical contender for the presidency was Cuomo’s father, Mario, whose well-known indecisiveness led him to not run in 1988 and 1992 and to later flip down a Supreme Court nomination that was a protected guess for affirmation.
The youthful Cuomo appeared destined for large issues as nicely, serving as secretary of Housing and Urban Development underneath President Bill Clinton, marrying a member of the Kennedy dynasty, and bouncing again from a failed bid for the Democratic nomination for governor in 2002 with a headline-making flip as lawyer basic.
Since being elected governor in 2010, Cuomo has picked up critics amongst progressive Democrats by slicing offers with Republicans and dealing carefully with a bunch that helped preserve the state Senate in GOP palms from 2011 to 2019.
Still, he’s fought off challenges from the left earlier than, together with an attention-grabbing however finally lopsided main contest with “Sex and the City” actress Cynthia Nixon in 2018.
But whereas Sheinkopf stated issues look fairly dangerous for Cuomo now, he should win a fourth time period, a feat even his father couldn’t pull off.
“I’ve worked in American politics in 44 states, governors, congressmen, you name it,” stated Sheinkopf. “If anybody could survive this, it’s Cuomo.”