"More than 15,000 seniors died in nursing homes and adult-care facilities, but the governor was clearly more worried about a Department of Justice investigation and political finger-pointing.
NEW YORK STATE ASSEMBLYMAN WILLIAM BARCLAY
(The Center Square) – New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and state Assemblyman Ron Kim accused each other of lying Wednesday as the two Democratic officials waged a nasty war of words that lingered through the afternoon.
Kim, who chairs the Assembly Committee on Aging, accused the governor in a New York Post article Tuesday of obstructing justice regarding the failed disclosures of nursing home deaths due to COVID-19. He also said he was working with a group of Albany lawmakers to repeal the emergency powers the Legislature gave to Cuomo last year.
That article led to Cuomo spending time during his Wednesday briefing with reporters pointing out that Kim’s beef with him stems from a law over protections for nail salon workers. Kim initially supported that legislation, the governor said, before business owners “in his community” became upset.
The governor then accused Kim of referring the salons to a lobbying firm where he once worked, an article The New York Times covered in November 2015. Kim also then raised money from those same individuals, which Cuomo said was “unethical, if not illegal.”
Kim shot back with a statement saying the Cuomo administration lied about the number of nursing home deaths.
“The governor can smear me all he wants in an effort to distract us from his fatally incompetent management,” Kim said in a statement Wednesday afternoon. “But these facts are not going away because they are the facts – unacceptable facts that hold him accountable.”
After that briefing, the Post reported Kim recalled a conversation the two men had last week, where he said the governor threatened to destroy him.
That allegation led to a strong rebuke not by the governor himself, but from Rich Azzopardi, his senior aide.
Azzopardi issued a lengthy statement saying he was on the call with Kim. He called the lawmaker a liar, saying he was one of three other people on that call between the men.
“These continued falsehoods are why the Governor chose to speak out today,” Azzopardi said. “We will not allow an unscrupulous politician to deceive New Yorkers or distort the truth.”
As he did in a Monday news conference, Cuomo again expanded on what he called the misinformation being promoted regarding the nursing home issue. He said there were a lot of rumors circulating about nursing homes and that it would have taken “a lot of time to knock down every bad rumor.”
The misinformation came as questions arose regarding the COVID-19 fatalities data the state released at the time, as well as efforts to delay in releasing pertinent information to the public. In recent weeks, it’s been discovered that while the actual death count is accurate, the number of deaths linked to nursing homes has risen significantly.
Cuomo has said efforts to tie those deaths to a March 25 order mandating nursing homes to admit COVID-positive patients are wrong, On Wednesday, he said the state was following the guidelines sent to them by the Trump administration.
“If you want to say it was wrong, then you have to say Trump was wrong and the CDC and CMS,” Cuomo said. “My health experts don't believe it was wrong.”
What was wrong though, he admitted, was that his office created the “void” that allowed for the misinformation to cause confusion.
“And that I feel bad about,” Cuomo said. “Not illegal, not unethical, but just failed people in that moment.”
Kim not only has been critical of Cuomo’s handling of nursing homes. In his statement Wednesday, he also accused the governor of his own impropriety. The assemblyman said Cuomo inserted an immunity provision for health care facilities into the state budget bill that passed last year.
That was done, Kim added, at the request of the Greater New York Hospital Association, which contributed more than $1 million to the governor’s reelection campaign.
Cuomo denied what he called a “pay-to-play” allegation.
published here with permission of The https://www.thecentersquare.com/