Longest serving New York politician calls on Cuomo to resign

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Assemblyman Richard Gottfried, the longest serving member of the state Legislature, has seen enough — he’s calling on embattled Gov. Andrew Cuomo to resign over mounting nursing home and sexual harassment scandals.

“Multiple and growing credible allegations of sexual harassment and recent reports detailing the cover-up of the true COVID-19 death toll in nursing homes are extremely disturbing and make it clear that Governor Cuomo is no longer the right governor for New York,” Gottfried, 73, who first was elected in 1970, said in a statement Tuesday.

“It is clear that it is best for Governor Cuomo to resign,” said Gottfried.

Gottfried is the highest ranking Democratic Assembly member to call for Cuomo’s resignation, coming just two days after Senate Democratic Majority Leader Andrea Stewart Cousins (D-Yonkers) urged Cuomo to step down, arguing he had lost his standing to govern.

More than two dozen of Cuomo’s fellow Democrats want him to resign, as well as most Republicans.

But Cuomo maintains he’s elected by the people and there’s “no way” he will resign and is pleading with people to await the findings of a probe of harassment claims overseen by state Attorney General Letitia James.

A spokesman referred to comments Cuomo made on Sunday.

“There are some legislators who suggest that I resign because of accusations that are made against me. I was elected by the people of the state, I wasn’t elected by politicians. I’m not going to resign because of allegations. The premise of resigning because of allegations is actually anti-democratic and we’ve always done the exact opposite,” the governor said.

Gottfried, as chairman of the Assembly Health Committee, has fought all year with the Cuomo administration over its refusal to disclose the complete count of nursing home residents killed by the coronavirus.

The Post exclusively obtained the audiotape of a private Feb. 10 meeting top Cuomo aides had  with lawmakers where Secretary to the Governor Melissa DeRosa claimed the administration refused to release complete nursing home information to the legislature and the public because of an ongoing federal probe. She said “we froze” and expressed concern the data would be “used against us” by former President Trump and probers.

Gottfried, who participated in the virtual meeting, rejected DeRosa’s explanation.

“I don’t have enough time today to explain all the reasons why I don’t give that any credit at all,” said Gottfried, one of the lawmakers who demanded the death-toll data back in August.

Gottfried, who represents Manhattan’s West Side, was incensed further last week when the Wall Street Journal reported that Cuomo’s team had the higher COVID-19 death toll tally for nursing home residents removed from a state Health Department report.

The administration was reporting only nursing home residents who died in facilities, not thousands of others who were transported to hospitals and died.

“The plain truth is: The administration said X thousand nursing home residents died of Covid, when they knew it was about 50% more than that, maybe more.  They intentionally hid the higher number,” Gottfried told the Post last week.

“Saying that those deaths were included in a total number of hospital deaths doesn’t change the fact that they deliberately hid the fact that thousands of those deaths were people who contracted Covid in a nursing home.  If they weren’t comfortable telling us precisely how many nursing home residents died of Covid in a hospital, they should have given us a round number and said it might be a little more or less.  But it’s wrong to hide the number and give us a number that they knew was off by thousands.”

Cuomo special counsel Beth Garvey said Tuesday the data of nursing home residents who died in hospitals was not accurate at the time, and therefore wasn’t included.

More than 15,000 residents in nursing homes and other long-term and assisted facilities have died from COVID-19.

The Justice Department and the US Attorney’s Office in Brooklyn are probing Cuomo’s handling of nursing homes.

Cuomo’s office didn’t start giving a full accounting of COVID-19 nursing home resident deaths until late January after state Attorney General Letitia James issued a scathing report that found the administration had low-balled reported fatalities by 50 percent and a state judge ruled the governor illegally withheld the information and ordered it released.

Meanwhile, Cuomo is confronting allegations that he sexually harassed female aides.

James is overseeing an independent probe of Cuomo’s actions and has appointed a former top federal prosecutor and veteran employment discrimination lawyer to lead the effort.

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