Editor’s Note: By covering stories other big newspapers have ignored, the New York Post, founded in 1801 by Alexander Hamilton, is regaining some of its luster. In this latest editorial on the Cuomo Administration’s latest crisis, it questions whether campaign contributions played a role in the March 25 order requiring nursing homes to accept COVID-19 patients. Also, below, is a sampling of editorials on the issue.
Governor Cuomo is trying to rage his way through the horrific nursing-home scandal, vowing to “take on the lies and the unscrupulous actors” even as he repeats his own lies blaming the feds for his fateful March 25 mandate that homes accept COVID-contagious patients. Will the feds let him get away with it?
New Yorkers who lost family members in nursing homes were cheered by news of a federal probe into the matter. But the Biden Justice Department might buy his effort to blame the Trump administration, even though it’s transparently false.
The probe, by the FBI and Brooklyn US attorney’s office, is reviewing Team Cuomo’s actions in the COVID deaths of 13,000-plus home residents and the ensuing long coverup of the true fatality count. A new Empire Center analysis, using data the state finally handed over under court order, suggests the March 25 order did, in fact, fuel hundreds of fatalities.
In a rare moment of candor, the gov’s top aide Melissa DeRosa admitted Cuomo’s folks concealed the true numbers for fear they might be “used against us” in a federal probe. Prosecutors need to determine, among other things, if withholding that data amounted to obstruction of justice.
The danger, of course, is potential White House interference. Cuomo, after all, has been a staunch supporter of President Biden, and the prez and his Justice Department may look to protect the governor. (Audrey Strauss, the U.S. attorney for the Southern District, is DeRosa’s mother-in-law.)
Any federal probe must be comprehensive and allowed to run its course independently. “We opened a file” won’t do.
Nor should this end with a narrow, criminal probe. If Cuomo, for example, ordered patients be sent to nursing homes to suck up to the hospital industry, which donates heavily to his campaigns, there may be insufficient grounds for a criminal conviction, but it’s no way to make policy.
No, getting all the answers won’t bring back loved ones. But they need closure. As do all New Yorkers.
Here’s What Other Newspapers Are Saying
Democrat & Chronicle, Rochester
The issue facing Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration isn’t simply having made mistakes — no government leader or agency can claim perfection in a public health crisis that has killed nearly a half-million Americans in one year.
The issue, as it so often is, stems from a startling lack of transparency regarding data on nursing home illnesses and deaths. Hiding from the public information that might not be flattering to an administration is a textbook “self-own” by public officials such as Cuomo, who should know better.
It might seem ludicrous now, but Cuomo ran for his first term in 2010 promoting public transparency.
The Wall Street Journal
(Top Cuomo Aide Melissa) DeRosa’s reported admissions indicate the Cuomo Administration’s conduct wasn’t merely negligent, but intentional and perhaps criminal. Numerous federal criminal statutes could apply. It’s a crime to make false statements to the federal government. It’s also a crime to conceal information and otherwise obstruct government investigations. New York may have engaged in a conspiracy to defraud the U.S. and its agencies and possibly obstruct justice, among other crimes.
ZUCKER SHOULD RESIGN
Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker should resign.
For months, Zucker claimed the state was still working to compile an accurate count of nursing home deaths, including residents who died in the hospital. He had the numbers all along, releasing them hours after Attorney General Letitia James released her investigation.
The Health Department should not do the political bidding of the governor. It undermines confidence that decisions are being made for public health reasons.
NEXT, Inspector General
New York State also has an inspector general’s office that has a mandate to ensure that “State officials and employees meet the highest standards of integrity, efficiency, and accountability.” To fulfill its mission, the IG’s office conducts investigations of fraud, corruption, abuse and mismanagement in state government, including the executive branch.
Investigating whether the governor, his secretary and/or leadership at the Department of Health engaged in the alleged obfuscation or delay is right in the IG’s wheelhouse, and could lead to proposals for policy changes, or referrals for discipline or prosecution if the facts warrant such a result.
Let Voters Decide
The Buffalo News
We remain convinced that New Yorkers have benefited from Cuomo’s leadership during the pandemic. His critics would have you believe that his failure to promptly release those figures obviates every other action the governor has taken as the novel coronavirus threatens illness and death on every street in the state. It doesn’t.
Nor does it mean Cuomo should be impeached, as some of his loopier Republican critics say. This is a matter for voters to evaluate. And it surely doesn’t mean Cuomo’s pandemic authority should be ended.
As it stands, those powers will expire in March, one year after they were granted … Far from ending Cuomo’s authority, the Legislature should extend it, perhaps in shorter increments.