Governor Cuomo faces impeachment inquiry following numerous scandals


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Cassandra Brey, Staff Writer

On Thursday, Mar. 11, the New York State Assembly launched an impeachment inquiry against Governor Andrew Cuomo.

The New York State Assembly claims the investigation will probe into several issues: the concealed data calculations of COVID-19 deaths in nursing homes, the various sexual harassment claims, structural issues on the Mario M. Cuomo Bridge, and Cuomo’s “vaccine czar,” Larry Schwartz’s, various phone calls with New York county executives.

The State Assembly probe is separate from the investigation that has been launched by State Attorney Letitia James into the claims of sexual harassment and fraudulent numbers of COVID-19 related deaths in nursing homes. James has stated that her investigation will continue regardless of how the impeachment inquiry pans out.

Eight women have accused Cuomo of unwanted sexual advances; Lindsey Boylan, a former Cuomo staffer, claimed that over the three years she had worked for him, he had made multiple non-consensual physical advances.

Charlotte Bennett, another former aide, stated that after she had opened up about being a survivor of sexual assault to him, Cuomo’s response was to ask her further questions about her sexual activity.

Anna Ruch, who had never met Cuomo before he sexually harassed her in 2019, claims that he forcefully asked if he could kiss her at a wedding.

State Attorney Letitia James officially launched the probe into the allegations of sexual harassment on Monday, Mar. 1 after receiving approval to do so from his office.

In total, 16 of the 19 State House Democrats have called for his resignation, including Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, who have shown support for his impeachment.

Cuomo, a third-term Democrat who historically always had the support of the state and the public, responded to the claims of sexual harassment, stating he would not “bow down to cancel culture.”

Although Cuomo reportedly said he understands how he made several women uncomfortable with what he thought were acceptable “jokes,” he has not fully apologized for his actions. Cuomo is refusing to resign for any of the reasons brought forth by his fellow party members.

University sophomore Jeremiah Williams, studying Political Science and Journalism, is an advocate for allowing independent investigations to move unimpeded by politics.

“Elected officials must operate with public transparency for us as voters to be confident in our decisions when electing our leaders. It is not only fair but just for Governo Cuomo to bear the consequences of his actions,” said Williams.

Seven women so far have officially claimed that Cuomo sexually harassed them while in an official or work setting. Lindsay Boylan, a former staffer, informed the media that over the three years she worked for him, he made multiple non-consensual physical advances.

Another woman, Anna Ruch, claims she had never met Cuomo before he sexually harassed her in 2019, announcing that he forcefully asked if he could kiss her at a wedding.

Most recently, Anna Liss, who worked as his policy-aide for two years, told the Wall Street Journal that Cuomo called her “sweetheart,” asked personal questions, and hugged and kissed her without her consent. While she felt that it was “harmless,” it grew to irritate her over time.

“The due process of the law should be allowed to run its course under the innocent until proven guilty pretext. I recognize the irreparable damage false allegations can have on someone’s life if they are indeed innocent, said Williams.

“Both sides of this process must be equally upheld and trusted in order for a long-standing and significant shift in overall workplace culture can take place”  continued Williams.

University professor Kiku Huckle recently appeared in an interview with News12 to discuss the harassment allegations. She spoke to The Pace Press about Cuomo’s behavior.

“Regarding Cuomo – it is not possible to say that one investigation or impeachment will be enough to change a culture that systematically devalues women, while simultaneously making them responsible to both mold and then deal with the fall-out of others’ poor behavior,” Huckle says.

“Note that this trend and expectation is not limited to sexual harassment. Accountability is not ‘cancel culture’; if someone misbehaves, they should be held responsible. Full stop,” Huckle continued.

“While ideally we are our own accountability officers,  societies and communities thrive when social norms demand that everyone behave appropriately and respectfully, and everyone takes part in addressing individuals and instances when that is not the case,” Huckle concluded.

The investigation is currently underway, with the NYS Attorney General’s office subpoenaing dozens of officials in the Cuomo administration on Friday, March 26.

A report released by James in February revealed that nursing homes experienced 50 percent more deaths than officially reported by the state. The official number of deaths in nursing homes due to COVID-19 is 8,711. The report stated that the unofficial count is really over 10,000.

The nursing home scandal contradicts an executive order that Cuomo sent out in March 2020 that instructed nursing homes to allow stable COVID-19 patients back into the facility as a way to open beds in the hospital.

A week later, Cuomo signed a budget that created immunity protections for nursing homes: nursing homes would not be held liable for any COVID-19 outbreaks, which meant many for-profit homes could avoid distributing proper personal protective equipment to staff and residents.

The structural issues with the Mario M. Cuomo Bridge, formerly known as the Tappan Zee Bridge, were revealed by a whistleblower earlier this month. Reportedly, the $3.9 billion project has defective bolts attached that undermine the entire structure, having continued to snap a year after being installed.

The faulty bolts were reported to have been covered up in 2016 before the bridge opened by the state-hired construction company, Tappan Zee Constructors. The investigation never moved forward after the findings were given to the state attorney general’s office. A report in 2017, commissioned by the Thruway Authority, warned that more than half of the bridge’s bolts are at risk of breaking.

Schwartz, the “vaccine czar” in charge of state vaccination efforts, reportedly made several calls encouraging vaccine rollout while also attempting to get officials’ to support Cuomo.

The three county executives who received these calls cited they feared that this was a means for Cuomo to determine who may still support him in the midst of political strife, and to punish or reward them and their constituents.

“All decisions regarding vaccines are done based on public health considerations, not politics,” said Schwartz.

Excusing the three who accused Schwartz of coercing loyalty from them, no further claims of that nature have been made by any other county executives. Most county executives stated that the phone calls were only concerning the vaccination rollout.

With the opposition rising, Cuomo faces more troubled political waters than he has ever had to cross before. While he continues to deliberate his resignation or accept accountability for his actions in any of the issues brought forth by state representatives and the public, the impeachment process will not be easy.

Cuomo continues to insist that New Yorkers need to wait for the facts, and let the “truth” come out with time. The truth that Cuomo believes exists and the truth that the general population believes exist may yet reveal themselves to be strikingly different as the impeachment process continues.