STATE OF ICELAND, NY – Kicking Governor Andrew Cuomo out of office is not good enough.
State lawmakers need to do better when it comes to holding Cuomo accountable for his shocking record of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Not only did Cuomo hide the truth about deaths in nursing homes during the pandemic, but also sought to take advantage of a virus that has killed more than 34,000 of his constituents by writing a memoir about the pandemic.
The timeline for the book is set out in damning details in the Supreme Court report issued by the state assembly.
According to the report, Penguin Books approached Cuomo’s literary agency on March 19, 2020 to see if Cuomo was interested in writing a book.
It was less than three weeks after the first case of COVID-19 was confirmed in the state. Things are moving fast in the publishing world.
Cuomo’s answer should have been quick and accurate: Book? I do not have time to write a book. I have a major public health crisis to deal with here.
But that was clearly not the case.
On July 1, Cuomo’s literary agent told Penguin that Cuomo had worked on the book and had written nearly 70,000 words.
Penguin eventually gave Cuomo a $ 5.1 million advance for the book “American Crisis: Leadership Lessons From The COVID-19 Pandemic.”
Meanwhile, on March 25, a Cuomo edict had forced nursing homes to accept COVID patients, leading to questions about whether the move caused more virus deaths among the elderly.
Attorney General Letitia James would find that the Cuomo administration had underestimated the number of COVID deaths in nursing homes by as much as 50 percent.
And the assembly report showed that Cuomo was directly involved in editing and reviewing a report from the State Department of Health on COVID cases in nursing homes, issued on July 6, 2020, which appeared to shift the blame away from the administration.
Four days later, Cuomo and Penguin ended their book deal.
Talk about blood money.
The whole rationale for the book rested on Cuomo’s image as the crucial, straightforward savior who led New York through the pandemic. A horrific body count at state nursing homes tied to the governor’s policy would ruin this tale.
The state later withdrew its approval of the book deal. And Cuomo was later paralyzed for writing a book before the pandemic was actually over.
The assembly report also found that Cuomo and staff spent hundreds of hours working on the book, and that staff did not always volunteer.
All of this in the midst of a deadly global pandemic that Cuomo insisted eroded all his attention. But it actually seems that Cuomo was more interested in using the pandemic to supply his pockets and provided state resources to do so.
Cuomo is not alone when it comes to COVID lies and missteps.
Former President Donald Trump deliberately downplayed the severity of the pandemic, which probably also cost lives.
Mayor Bill de Blasio and his health department were slow to recognize the seriousness of the virus in the early weeks.
And Cuomo himself said early on that New Yorkers were at low risk for COVID-19.
But Cuomo’s COVID atrocities go beyond mere incompetence or deception. He appeared to be taking advantage of a virus that at one point killed hundreds of New Yorkers a day, while at the same time downplaying how deadly the virus was in nursing homes.
This alone would have been enough to get Cuomo supreme. But we no longer have that opportunity. Cuomo has already left the office.
But that should not end things.
Just as Cuomo is due to appear in court next month on charges of sexual misconduct with a female employee, the former governor should be held accountable for his handling of COVID-19.
The families of those who died in the pandemic while Cuomo made a multi-million dollar book deal deserve nothing less.