New York Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has called for a “full investigation” of the allegation that New York Governor Andrew Cuomo was hiding the real number of nursing home deaths during the pandemic in the state.
Ms Ocasio-Cortez put out a statement Friday, saying: “I support our state’s return to co-equal governance and stand with our local officials calling for a full investigation of the Cuomo administration’s handling of nursing homes during COVID-19.”
She added: “Thousands of vulnerable New Yorkers lost their lives in nursing homes throughout the pandemic. Their loved ones and the public deserve answers and transparency from their elected leadership, and the Secretary to the Governor’s remarks warrant a full investigation.”
Andrew Cuomo and his administration are under scrutiny after an investigation by the state’s Attorney General found that the actual number of deaths in nursing homes during the pandemic was 50 per cent higher than previously reported.
Melissa DeRosa, a Cuomo top aide, revealed to lawmakers that they had withheld certain data out of fears that it would be used against them by federal prosecutors, The New York Post reported.
Assemblyman Ron Kim, who like Ms Ocasio-Cortez represents a district in Queens, told The New York Post that it looked like the administration was “trying to dodge having any incriminating evidence”. After having made that comment, he got a furious phone call from Mr Cuomo, who proceeded to yell at him for around ten minutes.
Mr Cuomo threatened to go after Mr Kim in public if he did not clarify his remarks, The New York Times reported. During a press conference Wednesday, the governor said that his administration had had a “long and hostile relationship” with Mr Kim, and Mr Cuomo also put forward allegations that Mr Kim was engaging in illegal behaviour.
Mr Kim said that Mr Cuomo had threatened to “destroy” him if he didn’t help with the damage control after the fallout of the cover-up allegations of the nursing home deaths figures.
Several state assembly Democrats have since come out in support of Mr Kim. They have also backed new legislation that would remove emergency powers from Mr Cuomo. Nine state Democrats have accused Mr Cuomo of obstructing justice and have called for an investigation that Ms Ocasio-Cortez now supports.
The lawmakers wrote on Thursday that “as a co-equal branch of government, the Legislature is well within its rights to seek oversight of executive action. In fact, we have a duty to seek that oversight”.
The Albany Times-Union reported on Wednesday that the FBI and the US Attorney in Brooklyn have opened an investigation into the Cuomo administration’s handling of nursing homes during the pandemic.
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