Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s COVID-19 task force is currently being investigated by the FBI and federal prosecutors in Brooklyn particularly for their handling of nursing homes early in the COVID-19 pandemic. Here’s everything you need to know surrounding the recent allegations.
In March of 2020, the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) began their investigation because they received allegations of “COVID-19-related” neglect of nursing home residents. On Jan. 28, Attorney General Letitia James reported that nursing home deaths in New York may have been undercounted by 50%.
The OAG’s investigation also found nursing homes’ lack of compliance with COVID-19 protocols that put residents at an increased risk of contracting the virus.
“It is imperative that we understand why the residents of nursing homes in New York unnecessarily suffered at such an alarming rate,” James said in the press release. “While we cannot bring back the individuals we lost to this crisis, this report seeks to offer transparency that the public deserves and to spur increased action to protect our most vulnerable residents. Nursing home residents and workers deserve to live and work in safe environments, and I will continue to work hard to safeguard this basic right during this precarious time.”
Based on the OAG’s investigation, the AARP concluded that the state’s official nursing home COVID-19 death count of 8,700 as of Jan. 29 could have actually been over 13,000 with James’ findings.
On Feb. 17, the Albany Times Union first reported the FBI and federal prosecutors’ investigation. So far, the scope of the investigation is unknown and the FBI has declined to comment.
New York Republicans have called for Cuomo’s impeachment, according to CNN, while both Democrats and Republicans are looking to repeal Cuomo’s COVID-19 emergency powers.
Cuomo’s emergency powers, which end on April 30, allow him to issue emergency executive orders that reject current laws in order to address the pandemic.
Since news of the nursing home deaths broke, more bullying and sexual harassment allegations against Cuomo began to surface.
Assemblyman Ron Kim (D-Queens) said that Cuomo threatened him over the phone following his criticism of the administration’s handling of nursing home deaths.
“It was a political threat that left a shocking moment for my wife, my family,” Kim told NY1. “It was just yelling at me. I think we could have gotten past it, but it was the yelling plus the request to lie about what I heard.”
According to NY1, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio told MSNBC, “A lot of people in New York State have received those phone calls. The bullying is nothing new. That’s classic Andrew Cuomo.”
After Kim came forward, MSN reported that former aide to Gov. Cuomo, Lindsey Boylan, said that Cuomo “perpetuated a culture of intimidation.”
Boylan also said that in 2016, her boss told her that Cuomo had a crush on her. Additionally, while she was on a jet with him in 2017 he suggested that they play strip poker and in 2018, when she accepted a promotion to the role of Deputy Secretary for Economic Development and the Special Advisor, Cuomo kissed her as she was leaving a meeting with him in his office.
According to NBC News, Cuomo’s office asked the OAG and the chief judge to hire an independent investigator to “examine the allegations of sexual harassment against him.”
“Allegations of sexual harassment should always be taken seriously,” James said in a press release. “There must be a truly independent investigation to thoroughly review these troubling allegations against the governor, and I stand ready to oversee that investigation and make any appointments necessary. Given state law, this can only be accomplished through an official referral from the governor’s office based on State Law (§ 63-8) and must include subpoena power. I urge the governor to make this referral immediately.”
It is unclear what will happen to Cuomo after the investigations are concluded.