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A group of Democratic state senators demanded Friday that Gov. Andrew Cuomo be stripped of his emergency authority to deal with the coronavirus crisis in the wake of The Post’s revelation that his administration covered up nursing-home death data because of a pending federal probe.
“While COVID-19 has tested the limits of our people and state ––and, early during the pandemic, required the government to restructure decision making to render rapid, necessary public health judgments –– it is clear that the expanded emergency powers granted to the Governor are no longer appropriate,” the 14 lawmakers said in a prepared statement.
“While the executive’s authority to issue directives is due to expire on April 30, we urge the Senate to advance and adopt a repeal as expeditiously as possible.”
The move came shortly after Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins (D-Yonkers) issued a rare rebuke of the governor.
“Crucial information should never be withheld from entities that are empowered to pursue oversight,” Stewart-Cousins said in a prepared statement.
“This was always about getting the truth and allowing information to guide our response.”
Stewart-Cousins also issued a none-too-veiled threat against the governor, saying, “As always, we will be discussing next steps as a conference.”
Assembly Investigations Chairman John McDonald III (D-Cohoes) said he was “committed to getting answers to the many outstanding questions and discerning the facts we need to make informed decisions on next steps.”
“Anyone who lost a loved one in a nursing home deserves these answers and my colleagues and are I committed to ensuring full transparency on this issue,” McDonald said.
Meanwhile, Rep. Nicole Malliotakis (R-NY) — who on Thursday night called for Cuomo to resign over the scandal — sent a letter to the US Justice Department requesting that it look into The Post’s expose and “the potentially criminal actions of Governor Cuomo and his administration.”
The Post exclusively revealed that Cuomo’s top aide, Secretary to the Governor Melissa DeRosa, privately told Democratic lawmakers during a video conference Wednesday that his administration had withheld the state’s total nursing home death toll from them out of fear that the damning numbers would “be used against us” by the feds.
During a Friday morning appearance on Fox Business, US Rep. Tom Reed (R-Corning) said he planned to file a criminal complaint seeking DeRosa’s arrest by local and federal law enforcement authorities.
In a statement Friday morning, DeRosa claimed that in her remarks, “I was explaining that when we received the DOJ inquiry, we needed to temporarily set aside the Legislature’s request to deal with the federal request first.”
“We informed the houses of this at the time,” DeRosa said in the statement posted on Twitter by a Cuomo spokesman.
“We were comprehensive and transparent in our responses to the DOJ, and then had to immediately focus our resources on the second wave and vaccine rollout.”
DeRosa added: “As I said on a call with legislators, we could not fulfill their request as quickly as anyone would have liked. But we are committed to being better partners going forward as we share the same goal of keeping New Yorkers as healthy as possible during the pandemic.”
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