March 11, 2021 By Allie Griffin
More than 55 state legislators, including 14 from Queens, are calling for Governor Andrew Cuomo to resign amid mounting sexual harassment allegations and the state’s nursing home death scandal.
The Democratic lawmakers released a joint statement Thursday demanding Cuomo resign and allow the lieutenant governor to take over for the remainder of the term.
“The budget, the fight against COVID-19, and restarting the economy all demand clear and trustworthy leadership,” they said. “In light of the Governor’s admission of inappropriate behavior and the findings of altered data on nursing home COVID-19 deaths he has lost the confidence of the public and the state legislature, rendering him ineffective in this time of most urgent need.”
They published the statement after a sixth woman, an aide to the governor, came forward accusing him of inappropriate behavior. The details of this woman’s experience were published by the Times Union Wednesday.
The woman told the Albany newspaper that Cuomo had aggressively groped her underneath her blouse at the Executive Mansion late last year. The Times Union didn’t identify the woman, but said she is significantly younger than the 63-year-old governor.
Her allegations are the most serious against the governor to date.
Cuomo called the account “gut-wrenching,” but said he has “never done anything like this” on Wednesday.
The Cuomo administration has also faced criticism for allegedly covering up the extent of the COVID-19 death toll at nursing homes across the state. Top aides had not included the deaths of nursing home residents who died in hospitals in the official death count — apparently fearing that the Trump administration would politicize the issue.
The total number of nursing home deaths was finally released following a report by Attorney General Letitia James, who estimated the death toll was undercounted by as much as 50 percent. The number was revised in January from 8,500 to about 15,000 deaths.
James has also launched an independent investigation into the sexual harassment allegations that Cuomo faces.
The 55-plus lawmakers said they were both confident and grateful for James’ investigation, but said the governor should still resign before it is completed.
“In the meantime, the Governor needs to put the people of New York first,” they said. “We have a Lieutenant Governor who can step in and lead for the remainder of the term, and this is what is best for New Yorkers in this critical time. It is time for Governor Cuomo to resign.”
Queens Assembly Members Khaleel Anderson, Brian Barnwell, Catalina Cruz, Jessica González-Rojas, Andrew Hevesi, Ron Kim, Zohran Mamdani, Daniel Rosenthal and Nily Rozic; as well as Queens State Senators Michael Gianaris, John Liu, Jessica Ramos, James Sanders Jr. and Toby Ann Stavisky all signed onto the statement calling for Cuomo’s resignation.
Mayor Bill de Blasio also called for Cuomo, his longtime political foe, to resign this morning — citing the most recent and serious groping allegation, which he called “disgusting.”
“The specific allegation that the governor called an employee of his — someone who he had power over — called them to a private place and then sexually assaulted her is absolutely unacceptable,” de Blasio said during a morning press briefing. “It is disgusting to me and he can no longer serve as governor; it’s as simple as that.”
Though a majority of Queens state legislators — of both assembly members and senators — joined the call for Cuomo’s resignation, some names were missing from the joint statement.
Queens Assembly Members Stacey Pheffer Amato, David Weprin, Edward Braunstein, Alicia Hyndman, Vivian Cook, Clyde Vanel, Jeffrion Aubry, Catherine Nolan and Jenifer Rajkumar; as well as State Senators Joseph Addabbo and Leroy Comrie didn’t sign onto the statement.
#BREAKING: I join almost 60 state legislators, including Senators and Assemblymembers who believe it’s time to restore the public’s trust in our leadership.
This is what’s best of our state. Governor Cuomo, resign now. pic.twitter.com/TVXMbLy794
— Jessica González-Rojas (@votejgr) March 11, 2021
Resigning is the first step. Governor Cuomo must be held criminally responsible for the more than 15,oo0 covid nursing home deaths.