NY Gov. Cuomo: 'We made a mistake' when prioritizing nursing home death information

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (right) and Commissioner of Health Dr. Howard Zucker during a briefing Feb. 15 2021.

ALBANY, NY — Eleven members of the state Democratic Committee have offered a resolution to have their organization vote to formally censure Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo for what they claim was his attempt to deceive the public and the Legislature about the number of fatalities in New York's nursing homes due to the coronavirus.

"The Cuomo administration repeatedly stymied and refused to comply with requests for information regarding COVID-19 in nursing homes from the New York state Senate and Assembly ... (and) admitted to legislators that its lack of cooperation with the aforementioned information requests was due to fear of political accountability from the public and legal accountability due to an investigation by the United States Department of Justice," the resolution states.

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The resolution also criticized Cuomo for recent alleged verbal attack of Queens Democratic Assemblyman Ron Kim, saying the governor had "inappropriately threatened members of the Legislature with retribution if they do not cease examining the nursing home tragedy and working towards accountability."

Patrick Nelson, a Stillwater village trustee who last year unsuccessfully challenged incumbent state Sen. Daphne Jordan, R-Halfmoon, is among the small group that announced the resolution on Monday.

"This is not connected to my employment and is only in my capacity as a state committee member," said Nelson, who is a state Senate aide. "It doesn't reflect the view of the Senate or any member. I'm standing solely on my own two feet with my part in this."

Richard Azzopardi, a spokesman for Cuomo, deferred comment to state Democratic Party Chair Jay Jacobs.

"I always advise the state committee that the purpose of the state committee is to recruit and nominate candidates for state office and to assist in the campaigns to elect Democrats," Jacobs said. "That's our job. When we get into other issues, as members often like to do, I think it is a distraction. These are matters that the Legislature and governor's office are handling."

Jacobs noted there has been similar political unrest in the Republican Party with state parties across the nation trying to censure Republican elected officials who opposed former President Donald J. Trump.

"It's the job of the voters to make those determinations, not individuals who are looking to jump into a situation ... maybe search for some relevance. I don't agree with it."

Jacobs said there is "overwhelming support generally for the governor" in the state Democratic Committee, which has about 450 members.

The resolution put forth by the group of 11 committee members also accuses Cuomo of conduct unbecoming his office, including an alleged "failure to protect nursing home residents from COVID-19 ... (and) covering up of the number of deaths from COVID-19 in nursing homes."

"Honesty, dignity, respect and the well-being of our state and country must always come before party allegiance," said Nelson, who is the only Capital Region committee member supporting the resolution. "When a member of the Democratic Party does wrong, we seek to ensure that they are held accountable no matter how powerful they are, unlike in the Republican Party."

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