At the “We Care Memorial Wall” event on Sunday to commemorate those in New York state who died in nursing homes during the COVID-19 pandemic, Democratic assemblyman Ron Kim said Gov. Andrew Cuomo “will be held accountable.”
“I know that this governor will be held accountable, that I know that his reign of abuse of power will end soon because there are way too many decent people in the city of New York to let this guy go unchecked,” Kim said.
In February, Kim alleged that Cuomo threatened him in a phone call after the governor’s top aide admitted the Cuomo administration delayed the public release of nursing home fatalities. Kim claims Cuomo told him that “he hadn’t seen his wrath and that he can destroy me,” which the assemblyman said was “very traumatizing.” Prior to Kim’s allegation, the governor acknowledged a “long and hostile relationship” between himself and Kim in a press call.
“When I got that call from Gov. Cuomo threatening me and my career — my livelihood — to lie for him, I wasn’t scared of his bully tactics but I was afraid he would escape accountability,” Kim said at the memorial. “That is why I pushed back.”
Cuomo is facing bipartisan calls to resign after eight people came forward to accuse him of sexual misconduct, in addition to his mishandling of the COVID-19 pandemic in New York. Cuomo’s administration instructed aides to doctor a report on nursing home deaths, the governor’s top aide Melissa DeRosa said in February on a call with state lawmakers.
According to the Associated Press, more than 9,000 recovering COVID-19 patients were placed into nursing homes due to Cuomo’s order in March that required nursing homes to admit patients. An estimated 15,000 of the state’s fatalities were nursing home residents, as the New York Times reported. Cuomo’s order was revoked in May.
New York State Attorney General Letitia James found that the governor’s administration severely undercounted the number of COVID-19-associated deaths in nursing facilities by as much as 50 percent. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, both from New York, announced their support two weeks ago for Cuomo to resign.
“I’m not going to resign. I work for the people of the state of New York. They elected me, and I’m going to serve the people of the state in New York,” Cuomo told reporters. “I’m going to do the job the people of the state elected me to do.”
“This is about decent human beings coming together, taking on the most powerful politician in the state of New York because together decency will win,” Kim said. “And together, we will get to the truth.”
Also on Monday, the assemblyman went on Fox News to discuss his allegations that the governor instructed him to keep quiet on fatalities.
“The governor wanted me to lie and cover everything up to protect him, and I wasn’t going to have that,” Kim said. “The public had a right to know, and we have a duty to report to the public that this is what’s going on with the executive, and we need to check the executive and we need to do our jobs to get to the truth.”