Cuomo vaccine czar asked county officials for allegiance to embattled NY governor: report
Axios national political reporter Jonathan Swan says President Biden's silence on the New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo scandal becomes 'more conspicuous' the more Democrats call for his resignation.
Intertwining public health with a disgraced Democrat rocked by scandals sprinkled with a "help me, help you" look on top... that's the brand new bombshell just dropped on New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
A longtime Gov. Cuomo adviser contacted New York county officials over the past two weeks to gauge loyalty as the governor faced multiple scandals and a sexual harassment investigation, according to reports.
Larry Schwartz, known as New York's "vaccine czar," reached out to executives in a move that one Democrat county executive called "inappropriate."
"At worst, it was clearly over the ethical line," the executive, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, told the Washington Post.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo and longtime friend Larry Schwartz (Source: AP)
Schwartz responded to queries from the paper by saying that he did nothing wrong and acted "in a manner commensurate to a high ethical standard."
"I did have conversations with a number of County Executives from across the State to ascertain if they were maintaining their public position that there is an ongoing investigation by the State Attorney General and that we should wait for the findings of that investigation before drawing any conclusions," Schwartz wrote to the Post.
"Nobody indicated that they were uncomfortable or that they did not want to talk to me," he added.
Other officials who spoke to the Post did not share the same unease as their counterpart, but they did acknowledge variously that Schwartz "wasn’t the best person" to make the call, and that it was easy to see how someone might fear the call could lead to issues with vaccine supplies.
Schwartz has known Cuomo for decades, eventually serving as secretary to the governor from 2011 to 2015. Since his departure, he has reportedly continued to advise Cuomo.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo and long-time friend Larry Schwartz (Source: AP)
During the pandemic, Schwartz was appointed by the administration as the point person to handle the pandemic, managing much of the state’s response.
The unnamed executive feared, then, that their response would impact the vaccine supply to their county.
The action so unsettled the executive that they reportedly filed notice of an impending ethics complaint with the public integrity unit of the State Attorney General's Office, according to the Post and the New York Times.
Cuomo's office has denied that Schwartz did anything wrong, let alone "unethical."
"Larry answered our call to volunteer in March and has since then worked night and day to help New York through this pandemic, first managing surge capacity, and procuring necessary supplies for the state, setting up the contact tracing efforts, and now assisting with vaccine distribution," Beth Garvey, Acting Counsel to the Governor, told Fox News in a statement. "Any suggestion that he acted in any way unethically or in any way other than in the best interest of the New Yorkers that he selflessly served is patently false."
New York State Attorney General Letitia James has already taken charge of the investigation into Cuomo’s alleged sexual harassment – a case that now includes seven separate allegations of varying severity that the governor acted inappropriately with women employees and acquaintances.
One aide alleged that Cuomo groped her at the governor’s mansion after she was summoned to help him with phone troubles.
New York Democratic Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand and Chuck Schumer joined the growing number of politicians calling for Cuomo to resign from his office, arguing that "it is clear that Gov. Cuomo has lost the confidence of his governing partners and the people of New York."
"Gov. Cuomo should resign."