Feb 17, 2021 - Health

Cuomo allegedly threatened a state lawmaker over nursing home scandal

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks during the daily media briefing at the Office of the Governor of the State of New York
Photo: Jeenah Moon/Getty Images

New York State Assemblyman Ron Kim (D) said Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) threatened to "destroy" him over comments he made about the state's widening scandal on COVID-related nursing home deaths, CNN reported.

The big picture: Cuomo has come under intense scrutiny over his handling of the state's nursing homes during the pandemic, prompting widespread criticism and a damning report from the state's attorney general that found the health department significantly undercounted the number of deaths in nursing homes.

What he's saying: "Gov. Cuomo called me directly on Thursday to threaten my career if I did not cover up for Melissa [DeRosa] and what she said," Kim told CNN. "He tried to pressure me to issue a statement, and it was a very traumatizing experience."

Background: The incident happened after Cuomo's top aide, Melissa DeRosa, privately told lawmakers on a Zoom call that the state had withheld pandemic-related nursing home death tolls from them because "the Justice Department had made a similar request," and she was concerned about a federal investigation, the New York Times reports.

  • Kim was on the call and subsequently told the New York Post that he thought the governor should apologize for New York's nursing home deaths.
  • Kim has been an outspoken critic of the governor throughout the pandemic
  • Kim went on to claim Cuomo told him, "we're in this business together and we don't cross certain lines and he said I hadn't seen his wrath and that he can destroy me," according to Kim.
  • Kim also told the The New York Times the conversation lasted around 10 minutes during which Cuomo demanded the lawmaker release a statement clarifying his criticism of the governor last week.
  • He told CNN he received several "NO CALLER ID" calls over followed by messages from Cuomo aides saying the the governor wanted to speak to him.

Cuomo attacked Kim in personal terms on press call on Wednesday, and claimed Kim had told him the New York Post misquoted Kim, and that Kim had promised to put out a statement correcting it.

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