Democratic New York State Assemblymember and adjunct Cornell Law Prof. Ron Kim is alleging he was on the receiving end of a verbal attack from Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-N.Y.) on Feb. 11 after accusing the governor of criminal conduct — withholding nursing home death data to conceal underreported totals.
Following the reports of a nursing home death count cover-up, Kim has been one of Cuomo’s most vocal critics, believing the immense death toll to be a result of the March 25 directive by the governor.
During the conference call with Democratic legislative leaders, Cuomo’s secretary Melissa DeRosa ’04 MPA ’09 confirmed the cover-up. Kim called on Cuomo to apologize to the families of the deceased.
“They admitted that they were trying to dodge having any incriminating evidence that might put the administration or the [Health Department] in further trouble with the Department of Justice,” Kim told the New York Post.
Kim previously took to Twitter to admonish the governor for lying and misleading the people, referring to him as a “criminal.”
In response to Kim’s claims, Cuomo proceeded to call him on Thursday, Feb. 11. Kim described the exchange as traumatizing, stating that Cuomo urged him to clarify his statement on DeRosa’s admission to the cover-up.
“He goes off about how I hadn’t seen his wrath and anger, that he would destroy me,” Kim told The New York Times. “It was all yelling. It wasn’t a pleasant tone.”
Although Cuomo has a reputation for his style of leadership — some have described as abrasive and authoritarian –– he has denied Kim’s account of events. On Wednesday morning, the governor’s senior advisor Chuck Azzopardi released a statement rebuking the assertions Kim made.
“At no time did anyone threaten to ‘destroy’ anyone with their ‘wrath’ nor engage in a ‘cover-up,’” Azzopardi said.
A number of New York Democratic assembly members issued a joint statement backing Kim, saying they are deeply disturbed by Cuomo’s actions toward their colleague. The letter expresses support for the legislation Kim introduced on Tuesday Feb. 16, which would revoke the governor’s emergency powers.
“It is our job to represent our constituents and seek answers to the tragedies that took place in nursing homes around the State,” wrote the assembly members. “We aim to restore the proper balance of power between the Legislature and Executive branches.”