New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) seemingly turned on his own party in an attempt to rally support amid his nursing home scandal.
Reports indicated last week that top Cuomo aide Melissa DeRosa privately told state lawmakers the Cuomo administration had hidden its real nursing home COVID-19 death count from the federal government. The story has since brought on harsh criticism from both sides of the aisle — and Cuomo has been personally threatening lawmakers in an attempt to get them to discredit the account, at least four Democrats tell CNN.
Queens Assemblymember Ron Kim (D) told CNN that Cuomo called him last week while he was at home to “threaten my career if I did not cover up for Melissa [DeRosa] and what she said.” Cuomo specifically told Kim that “I hadn’t seen his wrath and that he can destroy me,” Kim recalled, saying the governor tried to “humiliate me” by questioning his credibility as a lawyer. Kim’s wife said she heard parts of the call. Kim added that Cuomo tried to call him again throughout the weekend, but Kim did not pick up and has since hired a lawyer.
Cuomo reportedly went after more lawmakers as well. Three other Democratic lawmakers, who stayed anonymous due to fear of retribution, also said “they were aware of outreach from the governor in which he clearly suggested or explicitly threatened political retaliation if they did not stand by him,” CNN reports.
At first, Cuomo’s office didn’t respond to dispute or deny Kim’s allegation. Then, in a statement sent Wednesday evening, Cuomo senior adviser Rich Azzopardi told CNN that “Kim’s assertion that the governor said he would ‘destroy him’ is false.” But in a separate statement, Cuomo communications director Peter Ajemian did not deny that the governor threatened the other lawmakers. Read more at CNN.