George Pataki, the former Governor of New York, has said the state should look at creating laws to recall Andrew Cuomo after his administration has been accused of hiding the true number of COVID-19 nursing home deaths.
Pataki, who was NY governor from 1995 to 2006 suggested that the state has lost confidence in Cuomo in the wake of the scandal.
Cuomo has been rocked after top aide Melissa DeRosa confessed on Thursday that that the administration deliberately hid data on nursing home COVID deaths in the midst of a Justice Department investigation into their handling of the pandemic.
In recent weeks, a court order and state attorney general report has forced the state to acknowledge the nursing home resident death toll is nearly 15,000, when it previously reported 8,500 — a number that excluded residents who died after being taken to hospitals.
Democrats, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Mayor Bill de Blasio, have since turned on Cuomo over the recent revelations.
Currently, New York does not have a procedure to allow for the recall of an elected official and creating one would require a constitutional amendment bill passed in successive years.
Former New York Governor George Pataki, pictured, has said the state should look at creating procedures to recall Andrew Cuomo
Pataki said that politicians and voters have ‘have lost confidence’ in Cuomo’s leadership
Republican Pataki, 75, told the New York Post: ‘I think it would be appropriate to take a hard look at that.’
‘I only think it should be used in extraordinary cases but when you really have lost confidence in the leadership in your state, I think the opportunity should exist for the majority of the people to say we want something different,’ Pataki said.
The former governor had tried to push through a state Constitutional amendment in 2002 to allow for the creation of such a process but it was stopped by then-Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver.
Pataki also told the outlet that voters should make a change in the 2021 mayor’s race and 2022 governor’s race, appearing to blame Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio for rising crime in New York City.
‘You have mentally ill people on the street harassing you and this is Sixth Avenue and midtown in the middle of the day,’ Pataki said.
‘There is a tremendous concern that things are not as they should be and it’s not because of COVID.’
Pataki said his friends were all fleeing New York’s taxes and high cost of living by moving to other states like Florida.
Cuomo’s administration has been rocked by the confession on Thursday of his top aide, Melissa DeRosa, that they deliberately hid data on nursing home COVID deaths, in the midst of a Justice Department investigation into their handling of the pandemic
Andrew Cuomo, governor of New York, was in the Oval Office on Friday to discuss COVID relief – where he looked sheepish and refused to answer questions from reporters
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi sent a letter to congressional Democrats touting the settlement, which would far exceed the under-fire governor’s demands, as she strongly rejected his repeated claims the state was being short-changed in a rare rebuke from a close ally
‘I am not one of those who is ready to give up but many are. And that’s discouraging. It wasn’t long ago that everyone wanted to be in New York,’ he said.
Pataki also name-dropped GOP candidates who could ‘mount a very serious challenge to Andrew Cuomo,’ including: Reps. Lee Zeldin, Elise Stefanik and Nicole Malliotakis.
Congresswoman Stefanik has said the alleged cover-up showed a ‘stunning and criminal abuse of power’ that should be prosecuted.
While New Yorkers cannot currently recall the governor, at least one politician has called for impeaching Cuomo.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio (left) has turned on Governor Andrew Cuomo (right) over the ‘very disturbing report’ into the state’s alleged nursing home deaths cover-up and has called for ‘full accounting of what happened’
New York Assemblyman Michael Montesano, a Republican, said on Friday that he plans to ask the state legislature to consider impeaching the governor, Fox News reported.
‘We’ve been calling for subpoenas and a hearing for quite a while,’ Montesano told the outlet.
‘This news of the last several days is extremely troubling to me and I’m going to be asking today for his resignation and I’m also going to be asking the legislature to look into, to explore filing articles of impeachment against the governor if he doesn’t resign.’
Rosa’s remarkable confession was made during a conference call with state Democrats and obtained by the New York Post.
In her confession, she admitted that officials ‘froze’ when former President Donald Trump’s Department of Justice asked for the data, before rebuffing the request.
DeRosa told lawmakers: ‘We were in a position where we weren’t sure if what we were going to give to the Department of Justice, or what we give to you guys, what we start saying, was going to be used against us while we weren’t sure if there was going to be an investigation.’
Around the same time the data was requested by the Justice Department, the Empire Center for Public Policy filed a Freedom of Information Law request for the true number of nursing home deaths.
Pictured: a patient is loaded into an ambulance by emergency medical workers outside Cobble Hill Health Center in Brooklyn in April 2020
Pictured: EMTs with the FDNY lift a man into an ambulance after moving him from a nursing home in April
Pictured: EMTs transport a patient from a nursing home to an emergency room bed at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Yonkers in April
An Albany judge ruled earlier this month that the Cuomo administration’s Health Department broke New York State law by failing to provide totals of all nursing home deaths caused by COVID-19 to a watchdog group that had requested the records.
Albany Supreme Court Justice Kimberly O’Connor ruled in a 16-page decision that the Department of Health must provide the records to the Empire Center for Public Policy within five business days and pay their legal costs.
The watchdog had filed a Freedom of Information Law request in August seeking to obtain the documents from the Health Department – which delayed releasing them for months.
The judge’s ruling came after a report from the office of Attorney General Letitia James in January found that the Cuomo administration had misled the public about the total number of nursing home residents killed by the pandemic.
Cuomo’s pandemic: A timeline of the governor’s response to the COVID-19 crisis
MARCH 1: Female nurse, 39, returning from Iran becomes the first in New York to test positive for COVID-19.
MARCH 2: Cuomo gives the first of 111 consecutive daily televised briefings for New Yorkers
MARCH 13: Donald Trump declares national emergency.
MARCH 14: An 82-year-old woman with emphysema is announced as the first patient to die from the virus.
MARCH 17: New York City mayor Bill de Blasio says city should follow San Francisco with a shelter-in-place order; Cuomo says it will be statewide: ‘As a matter of fact, I’m going so far that I don’t even think you can do a statewide policy.’
MARCH 19: California Governor Gavin Newsom issues first statewide lockdown order
MARCH 22: Cuomo signs statewide stay-at-home order.
MARCH 25: Cuomo orders that nursing homes accept convalescent COVID patients back into their facilities.
MAY 10: The nursing home ruling is reversed, to insist on a negative COVID test before return to a nursing home. By now, more than 9,000 people have returned to nursing homes.
AUGUST: Questions begin to be asked about the nursing home policy.
AUGUST 26: Department of Justice opens an investigation into New York’s nursing homes and COVID policy.
OCTOBER 13: Cuomo publishes American Crisis: Leadership Lessons from the COVID-19 Pandemic.
OCTOBER 21: Cuomo announced a policy of isolating identified ‘micro clusters’ of COVID cases.
NOVEMBER 20: Cuomo wins an Emmy ‘in recognition of his leadership during the Covid-19 pandemic and his masterful use of television to inform and calm people around the world’.
JANUARY 28: Attorney General Letitia James released a report finding that New York under-reported the number of deaths among nursing home patients by around 50 per cent, with 15,000 actually dying – not the 8,500 reported.
FEBRUARY 11: Melissa DeRosa, Cuomo’s secretary, admits that in August they ‘froze’ when asked for nursing home data, and dragged their heels on releasing it. The AP reports that more than 9,000 people were returned to nursing homes to recover from COVID in the period March 25-May 10, a figure 40 per cent higher than the official tally.
James’ report also concluded that ‘resident deaths associated with nursing homes in New York state appear to be undercounted by DOH by approximately 50 percent.’
De Blasio called in to WNYC’s The Brian Lehrer show on Friday morning to slam Cuomo after DeRosa’s revelation and the report from James’ office.
‘It’s a really disturbing report. It’s very troubling. We’ve got to know more. We now need a full accounting of what happened,’ he told WNYC.
‘Think about seniors, whose lives were in the balance and their families, you know, just desperate to get them the help they needed.’
The mayor said there needed to be action to prevent a repeat of such a scandal.
‘We need to know exactly what happened here. We need to make sure nothing like this ever happens again,’ he said.
De Blasio’s calls for ‘full accounting’ comes as Cuomo is facing growing outrage from within his own party over the bombshell report.
On Friday, 14 Democratic New York State Senators joined Republicans in calling for Cuomo’s pandemic emergency powers to be rescinded.
‘Without exception, the New York State Constitution calls for the Legislature to govern as a co-equal branch of government,’ they wrote.
‘While COVID-19 has tested the limits of our people and the state – and early during the pandemic, required the government to restructure decision making to render rapid, necessary public health judgement – it is clear that the expanded emergency powers granted to the Governor are no longer appropriate.
Pelosi slammed Cuomo’s claim that COVID aid is short of the $15billion needed for the state in a letter to congressional Democrats touting the settlement, it was reported on Saturday.
She said that the federal package is worth $70billion, which would far exceed the under-fire governor’s demands, as she strongly rejected his repeated claims the state was being short-changed in a rare rebuke from a close ally.
In the two-page letter, sent on Thursday and seen by the Times Union, Pelosi touted the proposal for $50billion in state and local funding for New York and $20billion to help families’ ‘health, financial security and well-being’ and insisted Cuomo’s demands had been ‘addressed’.
She wrote: ‘We sadly observe over 1.5 million coronavirus cases, nearly 45,000 deaths, and hundreds of thousands of job losses in New York. Please know that your concerns are being addressed in ways that you have advanced and with the enthusiastic advocacy of Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand.’
Pelosi’s letter was sent to New York’s House Democrats in response to one they sent on Tuesday demanding more funding for the state. That in turn followed Cuomo’s own letter to the New York delegation demanding $15bn in direct local government relief.
Cuomo has remained uncharacteristically quiet on the matter but was seen attending a meeting with Joe Biden and other leaders at the White House to discuss a coronavirus relief package.
The governor, who won an Emmy for his coronavirus press briefings, has fallen from grace as new details continue to emerge about his handling of COVID-19 in the state’s nursing homes.