NEW YORK — Despite intense criticism around Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s handling of nursing homes during the pandemic — and accusations he bullied and abused lawmakers — it is increasingly unclear what, if any, price the governor will pay.
State Democratic Lawmakers in particular are not yet on the same page about removing or modifying Cuomo’s emergency pandemic powers and holding him accountable.
In Albany Tuesday, Queens Assemblyman Ron Kim led an audio-only meeting of the Committee on Aging for the first time since he revealed Cuomo personally called to threaten him if he did not retract criticism the governor’s handling of nursing homes during the pandemic.
Other Democratic lawmakers have since told PIX11 Cuomo’s bully behavior is Albany’s worst kept secret.
However, so far it has been only Republicans on the committee and in the legislature pushing for more accountability from the Cuomo administration.
“I have constituents whose family members passed away in nursing homes, and they want answers for what occurred,” said Republican Assemblyman Michael Tannousis, who represents Staten Island & Brooklyn.
Tannousis does believe he and Kim can work together to investigate the handling of nursing homes. However, the Democratic majority in both chambers of the legislature has been slow-moving.
There was a lot of talk last week as the nursing home scandal came to a head about removing or modifying Cuomo’s pandemic powers. But this week Democrats have not acted.
A Republican effort to strip Cuomo of his emergency powers was shot down by the Democratic majority in the Senate. Some Democrats think a commission to approve or disapprove of all the governor’s pandemic decisions is the way to go. But it is unclear if that is the direction this is headed. Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie of the Bronx has been wishy-washy about what will happen next.
“I’m not sure there are going to be consequences unless more people join the chorus of voices,” said veteran political journalist and analyst Morgan Pehme.
Pehme authored an op-ed about being threatened by a top Cuomo aide in a similar manner to similar to Assemblyman Kim:
Pehme said it was in 2014 when he was editor-in-chief of City and State. He was on the verge of releasing a major story about Cuomo interfering with the Moreland Commission on Public Corruption.
“Democrats across New York are afraid of the governor and they’re scared because they fear retribution,” Pehme said. “This is a systematic tactic the Cuomo adminstration uses to try and chill negative coverage.”
Cuomo did not address the media Tuesday. He has continued to dispute Kim’s accounting of the phone call and said his only mistake with nursing homes was not correcting misinformation.