Fellow Democratic legislators in New York weren’t buying Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s explanation Monday as to why he refused for months to release a true accounting of nursing home residents who died from the coronavirus.
Assemblyman Ron Kim (D-Queens), whose uncle died from COVID-19, bluntly said, “all of it is BS” and a cover-up.
“They could have given us the information back in May and June of last year. They chose not to,” Kim said, when hearing Cuomo was blaming the DOJ probe for delays in releasing the accurate coronavirus death tally of nursing home residents.
Cuomo cited an exclusive Aug.26, 2020 story in The Post that broke the news about the Department of Justice inquiry into his administration’s nursing home admission policy and the undercounting of deaths, claiming Albany legislators should have known about the probe based on that report.
Kim said lawmakers could have passed laws to tighten up accountability and liability in nursing homes to save lives if they had the information sooner.
Kim also said Cuomo’s comments Monday don’t square with what top aide Melissa DeRosa told him and other legislators during a private meeting last week, when she said former President Donald Trump made the issue a “political football” and claimed that as an excuse for withholding the nursing home data. The Post first reported on her explosive remarks after obtaining an audio recording of the meeting.
“And basically, we froze,” DeRosa said.
“She talked about the potential that the information would be weaponized against them. DeRosa needs to be accountable for what she said,” Kim insisted.
“She implicated all of us in the cover-up.”
DeRosa on Friday issued a statement, mirroring what the governor said Monday that the administration was dealing with federal probers before it would release more detailed nursing home data to state legislators and the public data.
Meanwhile, state Sen. Alessandra Biaggi (D-Bronx) challenged Cuomo’s assertion that his team informed lawmakers that it would delay release of nursing home fatality data because of the federal probe.
“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,” Biaggi said in a tweet.
“I found out about a DOJ investigation with the rest of NY’ers in the @nypost story Thursday night,” she said.
State Sen. Julia Salazar (D-Brooklyn) claimed Cuomo was lying.
“If the Governor had actually informed the legislature months ago that his office was withholding the data they had on total nursing home deaths, there would’ve been no need for them to have a call with a group of legislators last week to inform them of this for the first time,” she tweeted.
“Governor can claim (as he’s done) that they withheld the data bc they thought it would be used against them by the DOJ(!). But claiming they informed the legislature is a lie on top of a lie. If he’d been honest in the first place, he may have had one bad news cycle. But now?”
State Sen. John Liu (D-Queens) also said the federal probe wasn’t an excuse for “months and months of delays” in “misleading” or “withholding information that the public deserves to know.”
He said he will back legislation curbing the governor’s emergency powers because of Cuomo’s fumbling of the nursing home issue.
“The status quo can’t remain. There needs to be a revocation of some of the governor’s emergency powers,” Liu said on the Fox News Channel.
“For months and months we’ve been asking the executive branch, the governor’s office for this information. It was information our constituents were demanding from the state government.”
Liu said he was particularly disturbed by state Attorney General Attorney General Letitia James’ damning report on nursing homes released last month that found that Cuomo’s Health Department low-balled the COVID death count of residents by 50 percent by excluding people who died in hospitals.
Hours after the report, team Cuomo started to come clean by releasing more accurate data that increased the COVID-19 nursing home death tally by nearly 4,000.
Senate GOP Minority Leader Robert Ortt said Republicans were never notified by Cuomo’s office about the DOJ probe and request for time to release nursing home data.
“People want the truth and the only way that can be provided is through investigations by the Department of Justice and the Attorney General,” Ortt said.
A state judge on Feb. 3 ruled that Cuomo illegally withheld COVID-19 nursing home data from the Empire Center for Public Policy and ordered its release. The watchdog group filed a legal request for the information and was stonewalled for sixth months before the judge ordered the administration to began releasing it.
Empire Center’s Bill Hammond said Cuomo’s hiding before the DOJ probe to sit on a true accounting of nursing home deaths doesn’t hold water.
“Cuomo and his administration was fighting release of the data before and after the DOJ probe. It’s not plausible that they couldn’t cooperate with DOJ and provide information to legislators and the public,” he said.
View original post