New Yorks vaccine czar called county officials over the past two weeks to gauge their loyalty to Gov. Andrew CuomoAndrew CuomoCuomo biographer: ‘Predatory behavior’ has been ‘evident for years’Cuomo’s choiceThe Memo: Cuomo clings to political lifeMORE (D), The Washington Post reported, as the states top official is the subject of an investigation and impeachment inquiry for allegations of sexual harassment.
One Democratic county official told the Post that they were so unsettled by the call from Larry Schwartz, head of New Yorks vaccine rollout, that they filed a notice of an impending ethics complaint with the public integrity unit of the state attorney generals office.
At best, it was inappropriate, the unidentified official told the newspaper. At worst, it was clearly over the ethical line.
The Hill has reached out to Cuomo for comment.
Schwartz, who is working in a volunteer capacity for the states vaccine distribution, reportedly admitted to making the phone calls in question, but said that he did so as a longtime friend of Cuomo, and that he did not discuss vaccines during the discussions.
I did nothing wrong, Schwartz told Post in a statement. I have always conducted myself in a manner commensurate to a high ethical standard.
Schwartz added that the cordial, respectful and friendly calls he made to county officials were separate from his role in the states vaccine distribution enterprise.
I did have conversations with a number of County Executives from across the State to ascertain if they were maintaining their public position that there is an ongoing investigation by the State Attorney General and that we should wait for the findings of that investigation before drawing any conclusions, he wrote.
Nobody indicated that they were uncomfortable or that they did not want to talk to me, he added.
The calls, the Post notes, could raise questions regarding the role politics plays in the states public health operation.
Schwartz told the newspaper, however, that the decisions about where to establish mass vaccination sites in the state are not made by one person, but instead are decided by members of the governors vaccine task force and outside consultants, based on merit, data and facts and not politics.
The Post spoke with several public officials who received calls from Schwartz, some of whom said they feared retribution from Cuomo if they spoke out against him, and others who were not disturbed by the calls, instead calling it politics as usual in the Cuomo administration.
The report of the calls comes days after Senate Majority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerCuomo biographer: ‘Predatory behavior’ has been ‘evident for years’Lawmakers call for action on first anniversary of Breonna Taylor’s deathSchumer, Gillibrand call on Cuomo to resignMORE (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Kirsten GillibrandKirsten GillibrandCuomo biographer: ‘Predatory behavior’ has been ‘evident for years’The Memo: Cuomo clings to political lifeSchumer, Gillibrand call on Cuomo to resignMORE (D-N.Y.) joined those calling for Cuomo to resign amid growing sexual harassment allegations against him.
“Due to the multiple, credible sexual harassment and misconduct allegations, it is clear that Governor Cuomo has lost the confidence of his governing partners and the people of New York. Governor Cuomo should resign, the senators said in a statement late Friday.
Cuomo has faced allegations of groping and unwanted kissing, and women who have come out against him have also said he asked personal questions about their sex lives and made other inappropriate comments in the workplace.
Cuomo remained defiant on Friday, saying he would not leave office and succumb to cancel culture.