Mar 15, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Top N.Y. vaccine aide accused of seeking county officials' support for Cuomo

Former secretary to the Governor Larry Schwartz in New York, United States, on March 30, 2020.

Former secretary to the Governor Larry Schwartz in New York City last year. Photo: John Lamparski/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Larry Schwartz, who oversees New York's COVID-19 vaccine rollout, allegedly called county officials seeking support for Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) amid mounting sexual misconduct accusations, per multiple reports Sunday. Schwartz and Cuomo's office deny the claims.

Driving the news: The Washington Post and New York Times report an unnamed Democratic county executive who claims Schwartz contacted them filed a notice of an impending ethics complaint with the N.Y. attorney general's office Friday.

  • The executive told WashPost though no specific threat was made, they were concerned their county's vaccine supply might be affected if they didn't indicate their support for Cuomo.
  • "At best, it was inappropriate. At worst, it was clearly over the ethical line," they added.
  • Democratic Suffolk County executive Steve Bellone told the New York Post: "Last Friday, I had a conversation with Larry Schwartz who reached out to discuss whether I was supportive of the governor."
  • Bellone added that he explained to Schwartz, a longtime adviser to Cuomo, that the allegations made against the governor were serious and that he supports an independent investigation.

What they're saying: Beth Garvey, acting counsel to the governor, said in an emailed statement: "Larry answered our call to volunteer in March and has since then worked night and day to ‎help New York through" the pandemic.

  • "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," she added.
  • Schwartz said in a statement to news outlets, "All decisions regarding vaccines are done based on public health considerations, not politics.
"At no time has politics ever entered into the discussion or decision-making regarding vaccines. I have never discussed vaccines in a political context and anyone who thinks that is seriously mistaken."
— Schwartz
  • Representatives for Bellone and the N.Y. attorney general's office did not immediately respond to Axios' request for comment.
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