Senate Republicans demand special session to revoke governor's emergency powers
Repeat call for immediate investigation into what they call nursing home cover-up
Senate Republican Leader Robert Ortt and members of the Republican conference on Friday called on the Senate majority to convene a special session and immediately strip Gov. Andrew Cuomo of his emergency powers. They also stressed the immediate need for a thorough, top-to-bottom investigation into the entire administration.
This comes in the wake of a New York Post story in which a top aide to Cuomo was caught on tape admitting to what Ortt’s team called “a massive cover up regarding COVID-related nursing home deaths.”
“For months, my colleagues have been accused of playing politics when, in reality, we are trying to get answers for the thousands of families who lost loved ones in nursing homes,” he said. “The leaked tape of the secret meeting held between administration officials and legislative Democrats confirms that not only did Cuomo’s office deliberately withhold information from the public and the Legislature, they did it to obstruct justice and dodge a federal investigation. It’s an absolute dereliction of duty and breach of public trust, and everyone involved must be held accountable. We have repeatedly called on the majority to join us in revoking the governor’s emergency powers – after this report, it is clear the majority must convene a special session and join us in doing so immediately.”
State Sen. Sue Serino, ranking member of the Senate Aging Committee, said, “This administration has shown a callous disregard for these vulnerable residents and their families for months, but this stunning admission is a horrific new low. A full, independent investigation into the state’s handling of the COVID crisis in New York’s nursing homes needs to be launched immediately and any lawmaker who is not actively working to make that happen is complicit in the cover-up – period. Hiding data on the deaths of more than 15,000 New Yorkers and denying their loved ones the answers they deserve for political reasons has to be Albany’s rock bottom. This revelation has only strengthened our resolve to continue our fight for justice and accountability for these residents and their loved ones.”
State Sen. Patrick Gallivan, ranking member of the Senate Health Committee, said, “The administration’s efforts to distort and cover-up the true number of COVID-related deaths in New York nursing homes are outrageous. It is clear that a thorough investigation is needed to determine the true scope of this crisis and find out who was involved in misleading the public. Fear of being held accountable is not a reason to break the law. The public trust has been broken and the legislature must immediately act to end the governor’s emergency powers.”
State Sen. Tom O’Mara, ranking member of the Senate Investigations Committee, said, “This is a massive and unconscionable cover-up. Gov. Cuomo and his inner circle need to be held accountable, on many levels, for their concealment, deception, whitewashing and worse. It’s time to immediately end government by Cuomo executive order, and it’s time to start every investigation that this deserves and demands. We should not be finding out the truth of this tragedy in nursing homes through leaks of secret Democrat-only meetings.”
Senate Republicans have repeatedly advanced an amendment – a total of 14 times – to remove the governor’s emergency powers. Each time, every Senate Democrat has voted against the amendment. In addition, Senate Republicans have called on their colleagues in the majority for months to use subpoena power to hold the governor and the DOH accountable, but again, the majority refused.
Ortt’s team said, “In the wake of the attorney general’s report that showed the administration had dramatically underreported nursing home deaths, Senate Republicans called for a federal investigation to finally get the answers all New Yorkers deserve.”
Ortt said, “It is more clear than ever who was really playing politics with this issue. First, we must strip the governor of his executive powers, and then it is imperative that a full investigation be launched immediately. Justice needs to be sought for the grieving families. The governor needs to demand the immediate resignation of anyone involved in this cover-up, and if he was aware, he must be removed from office.”
In addition, Republican Congress members Chris Jacobs, Lee Zeldin, Nicole Malliotakis, Elise Stefanik, Claudia Tenney, Tom Reed and John Katko called on Acting Attorney General Monty Wilkinson to open a Department of Justice investigation into Cuomo and his administration.
Jacobs said, “The Governor and his staff made a calculated and potentially criminal decision to withhold information of his reckless order forcing COVID-positive patients back into nursing homes. Grieving New York families and elected officials have tried for months to get answers, only to be brushed aside by the governor while he shamelessly accepted book deals and awards for his handling of the pandemic. This is now not only an investigation into the true toll of his disastrous directive, but a criminal investigation into obstruction of justice. This new reporting details willful corruption of the highest degree and represents one of the greatest betrayals of public trust we have seen during this pandemic. the Department of Justice must launch a federal investigation immediately, and Gov. Cuomo and his staff must face justice.”