New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, the same one who received an Emmy Award for his “master mastery” of information during the first wave of the pandemic and wrote a book about his leadership in managing it, is under fire. crossed by the FBI and the most progressive faction of his party, the Democrat, for a case of withholding data about deaths from coronavirus in nursing homes in the State. After initially rejecting the accusations, Cuomo had to acknowledge this week that his administration falsified the count for fear of a politically motivated investigation by the Donald Trump administration.
What began as a case of alleged administrative malpractice, revealed last week by The New York Times, is leading to a scandal on the brink of mud. Cuomo, who has been forced to accept that the death toll is double the official one (about 15,000, compared to 8,500 declared), has even lashed out at one of his co-religionists, Rom Kim, a legislator for the borough of Queens – and a prominent member of the progressive faction of the party – whose career he allegedly threatened to destroy after Kim accused him of “intentionally obstructing the action of justice” and evading a federal investigation. Cuomo called him, yelled at him and threatened to finish him off, Kim counted.
The blood has definitely reached the river when the mayor of New York, also a Democrat -and declared enemy of Cuomo- Bill de Blasio, has sided with Kim by stating that he is fully convinced that Cuomo threatened him in this way. In statements this Thursday to MSNBCDe Blasio affirmed that this “harassing” behavior is typical of the governor and that he has suffered it as well. A group of Democratic state legislators on Wednesday began the procedure to withdraw from Cuomo the emergency powers granted to him to manage the pandemic, after demonstrating that for a year the State did not include deaths in hospitals in the calculation, and that resisted providing the information to legislators and the media. The US Attorney for the Eastern District of New York and the FBI have opened a preliminary investigation.
Last spring, a report by the attorney general, Letitia James, already blamed the State for “making up” the balance of deaths from coronavirus in residences; the official count did not show the deaths of the elderly who had been referred to hospitals. Last month, the prosecutor denounced in another that deaths from covid-19 in nursing homes could be up to 50% higher than the official figure (8,500, according to the state government), which has forced Cuomo to rectify, for many too much afternoon.
No one is surprised by the animosity that Cuomo and De Blasio profess to each other; their differences are public and notorious and have been especially highlighted in the management of the pandemic, with antithetical measures -for example, those related to the closure of establishments to avoid contagion- that go so far as to use two different metrics to calculate the prevalence of the virus. But that tip of the iceberg, now red-hot, hides a tidal wave in the background, “the fight to the death for the soul of the Democratic Party,” as defined by a progressive New York Democratic militant who declines to be identified.
That is, an open face fight between the establishment Democrat, of which Cuomo, re-elected for the third time, is a prominent representative, and the lifeblood of renewal that makes the legacy of, among others, Bernie Sanders his own. That Cuomo once received the special Emmy award for his “television management” of information about the pandemic, with daily press conferences, is not surprising: his brother Chris is one of the star presenters of the CNN, another clear exponent of establishment democrat. But belonging to the hard core, the inner sanctum of the party, does not shield him from controversy; on the contrary, it seems to turn you into a magnet. Two weeks ago, the cascading resignation of a dozen experts in Public Health, at the time senior state officials, was known after Cuomo rejected the existing vaccination protocols to impose, without prior notice, his own. The governor has controlled decisions about confinements or vaccine administration since March.
The Democratic schism is served: what is subtly intuited at the federal level, has hatched in New York. The state gubernatorial elections, scheduled for next year and to which Cuomo, in principle, will attend – waiting to eventually jump into the national political arena, some point out – are already seen as the catalyst for change in the Democratic party. Progressive groups like the Working Families Party, and no small number of Democratic lawmakers, will fight for change, as the residences scandal looms like a slab on the political future of the controversial Cuomo and his peculiar style of executive governing.
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Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.