Multiple state and local lawmakers are calling for justice in response to a source report that the Cuomo administration covered up nursing home data.
New York State Senate Minority Leader Rob Ortt held a press conference on Friday to address the report saying, "I have never felt such outrage with the governor."
The New York Post first reported on Thursday a leaked call between Secretary to the Governor Melissa DeRosa and a handful of Democratic lawmakers, in which DeRosa said the Cuomo administration delayed releasing the full picture of nursing home deaths because of an investigation by the Department of Justice.
Senator Ortt says this is more than just a scandal, it was “gross misconduct and can not stand.”
The Republican Conference is calling on the Department of Justice and the NYS Attorney General to investigate the administration from “top to bottom.”
“This administration, the only apology they have given was to legislative leaders about the political inconvenience."
Senator Ortt emphasized that Democratic colleagues need to hold hearings and a special session to rescind the governor’s emergency powers.
“If they do not issue subpoenas immediately, they are complicit in the coverup," he said.
Sen. Ortt also called out legislative leaders for agreeing to allow the Department of Health to delay in releasing COVID-related nursing home deaths, information that was not shared with media at the time and only came to light from the Post article.
“If anyone is playing politics, it would be the majority,” Ortt said.
Senator Jim Tedisco of New York's 49th District called the report "disgusting and absolutely shameful." He called for state and federal investigations into the matter, as well as the revocation of the governor’s emergency powers. ”
“If this information that’s been reported is accurate, then Governor Cuomo has totally lost the trust of the people he represents and has violated his oath of office. He should then resign or face impeachment and removal from office.”
Democrats also called for taking action. "It’s now painfully clear that the legislature must take the necessary action to get the truth," Democratic Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara of New York's 111th District said. "We need more transparency and accountability from the governor - not less."
State Senator John W. Mannion, a Democrat from the 50th Senate District said, "The governor’s lack of transparency and stonewalling regarding his administration’s nursing home actions is unacceptable. Emergency executive powers granted to manage the COVID-19 crisis are no longer needed or deserved."
State Assembly Minority Leader Will Barclay weighed in as well, calling the report "hardly surprising" and issued that accountability should be served.
"It seems every decision coming out of the governor's office is about ‘Team Cuomo’ protecting its own image and own interests," said Barclay in a statement. "More than 15,000 seniors died in nursing homes and adult-care facilities, but the governor was clearly more worried about a Department of Justice investigation and political finger-pointing. Public health took a back seat to public relations. This administration intentionally withheld information from the public, from the press, from lawmakers and from the thousands of families who lost loved ones."
He went on to say, "This is why closed-door conversations won't cut it. If this episode doesn't make it painfully obvious that we need to issue subpoenas and hold public hearings, I don't know what will.”
Senator Joseph Griffo of New York's 47th District shared similar sentiments of the report, saying it "demonstrates the perils of one-party control of state government," in a statement.
Griffo issued that the public is owed "complete, accurate, and needed data," and that he will push for truth by means of a commission to independently investigate the issue.
"There must be a genuine effort to uncover the truth," said Griffo. "Accordingly, I am recommending and urging that the Legislature create and appoint a four-member, bipartisan commission of District Attorneys from across the state who will be selected by the majorities (2) and the minorities (2) to conduct a thorough and independent investigation into this matter.”