NEW YORK CITY — Gov. Andrew Cuomo is staying out of the public eye with another accuser stepping forward to say he gave her an unwanted kiss and a deepening controversy over COVID-19 testing.
Behind the scenes, Cuomo and state lawmakers also continue to negotiate the state budget, which Cuomo historically has used to control policy. This time around, with investigations swirling, the dynamic has changed.
Cuomo has not made a has not made a public appearance since the latest accusations made by Sherry Vill of an unwanted kiss in May of 2017.
A defense attorney for the governor said the encounter was an example of Cuomo’s standard way of comforting and greeting people his entire public life.
Cuomo has also not taken questions since news broke last week that he secured priority testing during the early days of the pandemic for his family and political allies.
Several newspapers, including the Washington Post, are now reporting it was more extensive that first thought — including priority testing using state resources for Cuomo’s brother-in-law, footwear designer Kenneth Cole.
The governor’s senior staff has denied special treatment was given.
Currently, Cuomo is locked away is tense and awkward budget negotiations.
Across the bargaining table is Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart Cousins, who’s called for him to resign, and Speaker Carl Heastie, who leads an Assembly that’s currently conducting an impeachment investigation.
Democrats in the statehouse appear to sense an opportunity push a more progressive agenda with a weakened governor who has been resistant to taxing the wealthy in the past.
Lawmakers are pushing for up to $7 billion in higher taxes to pay for things like rent relief, mental health, and homeless services. They also want a fund to help “excluded” workers, namely the undocumented, who have not been able to get federal help from the federal government during the pandemic.
Cuomo, though, supports a tax increase totaling closer to $1.5 billion.
The budget is due Thursday April 1, and is usually voted on in several pieces, with the most controversial parts coming later in the process/