If there is one name ingrained in the minds of those living in the greater New York metropolitan area, it’s Cuomo. Whether this is from driving over the Cuomo Bridge, watching Cuomo Prime Time on CNN or flipping through the latest New York Times, the Cuomo family has had political reign over New York since the ‘80s. However, recent investigations into Governor Andrew Cuomo’s actions regarding lies over COVID-19 death numbers and sexual harassment are putting the Cuomo name in jeopardy. In a succession of newly released information, Andrew’s status has fallen from an essential member of the Cuomo empire to a political pariah.
This past week has brought to light what can only be described as a corruption of politics embodied by Cuomo. On March 25, 2020, he ordered New York nursing homes to admit COVID-19 patients. Facing raging controversy, new guidance was released two weeks later prohibiting hospitals to send positive patients back to nursing homes. Almost a year later, the general public is only just finding out how many deaths Cuomo is responsible for. According to the Associated Press, at least 12,743 nursing home residents died from coronavirus as of Jan. 19, 2021, far greater than the 8,505 originally reported that day. While Cuomo has publicly claimed responsibility for his policy errors, it does not take away from the fact that he knowingly withheld public information. His motive to do so lies not in malicious intent nor protection of the public, but pure politics. In the midst of a global pandemic, Cuomo made a series of choices for political gain, refusing to release information that put his re-election at risk.
Also this week, three women have come out with disturbing sexual harassment allegations against Cuomo. The first two are former aides of the governor and both decades younger than him. The two are charging Cuomo with inappropriate and frequent physical touch of the bare arms, legs and lower back and questions insinuating sexual relations. The third woman, a guest at a wedding she and Cuomo attended, corroborates the claims and has released photo evidence of Cuomo touching her lower back and grabbing her face, claiming he asked if he could kiss her. What is even more disturbing than these allegations is Cuomo’s pattern of response to them. Cuomo has repeatedly played off these claims stating, “I never knew at the time that I was making anyone feel uncomfortable, and I certainly never meant to offend anyone or hurt anyone or cause anyone any pain. That is the last thing I would ever want to do.” His casual tone and lack of apology as a response to these serious allegations factor into a dangerous culture of power relationships and normalization of workplace sexism.
The new sexual harassment allegations against Cuomo, coupled with the new release of New York COVID-19 deaths, creates a fragile narrative for him. While governing a state during a global pandemic is uncharted territory for all, it is now clear where Cuomo has placed his priorities - not in the elderly of New York, but in re-election. As for his sexual assault allegations, Cuomo is just the latest in a never-ending series of men abusing status to take advantage of women and gaslighting what are often traumatic experiences. Cuomo has not yet resigned, but it is clear that the nursing homes, the women he sexually harassed and New York deserve better.