The results of a long-awaited release of a state legislative investigation into former Gov. Andrew Cuomo didn’t much surprise Assemblyman Andrew Goodell, R-Jamestown.
Sen. George Borrello, R-Sunset Bay, said he would like to see further investigation into both the book deal and the withholding of nursing home statistics. Investigators found Cuomo and his senior staff were not fully transparent with the public regarding the number of COVID-19 deaths among nursing home residents. Witnesses said the same senior Executive Chamber official who served as the key point person for the governor’s book made the decision that only in-facility deaths would be included in the July state Health Department report. There were several reasons given for counting only in-facility deaths, but some state Health Department officials testified the proper reporting of the nursing home death totals should have included the total number of deaths — both in- facility and out-of-facility — with an explanation of how deaths were calculated, and that such an accounting would have been consistent with the manner in which medical reports of this type were produced.
“Both the book deal and the withholding and altering of nursing home deaths require closer inspection by investigative authorities, both civil and criminal,” Borrello said to The Post-Journal on Monday. “The timeline for the book deal is far too suspect and coincidental with regard to the release of the nursing home data.”
Health Department officials also expressed concern to investigators that Cuomo’s COVID-19 response team was largely comprised of non-medical experts and that decisions were not always made based on scientific or medical advice. There was only one health care professional on the task force, according to the report, and that person told investigators that the Health Department official didn’t have regular meetings with Cuomo during the pandemic and found it difficult to speak directly with Cuomo because senior Executive Chamber officials closely guarded access to Cuomo.
That same official said it was difficult to speak freely to Cuomo or senior staff because advice contrary to the executive chamber’s views were often rejected, and speaking up could lead to even further limited access.
“While the governor was politicizing the COVID emergency as much as possible to attack Trump he was doing exactly the same thing on the flip side by running the COVID response based on a political analysis rather than on allowing the Health Department to use its expertise,” Goodell said. “That was particularly telling when you had statewide mandates that really didn’t make a lot of sense to be on a statewide basis bypassing all the local health departments who already had public health emergency plans in place before the pandemic began. So it was a gross abuse of centralized power at the expense of a more flexible and appropriate response by well-trained, well-qualified, well-prepared local health officials.”
The report only delved in-depth into two of the instances of sexual harassment, though it found overwhelming evidence that harassment happened.
“There is a clear and disturbing pattern of the former governor saying one thing to the public while doing another behind closed doors,” Borrello said. “I believe that finally caught up with him and is well outlined by the report.”
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