The Governor of the State of New York, Democrat Andrew Cuomo, has gone from hero to villain in the pandemic so far. Accusations of sexual harassment by a former adviser, this Wednesday, add to the political storm unleashed in their own ranks for the concealment of data about the death of inmates in residences by covid-19, a case that is in the hands of justice and that has the most progressive wing of the party firing friendly fire at will.
All against Cuomo, it seems to be the watchword; but above all yours. For whoever was seen as a communication model in the first wave of the pandemic, with daily televised press conferences that earned him an Emmy award, everything now turns against. Cuomo (New York, 63 years old) even wrote a book about his effective emergency management; Despite himself, he continues to run rivers of ink.
Lindsey Boylan, former economic adviser – and current candidate to preside over Manhattan County – revealed new details on Wednesday about the alleged harassment suffered during the four years she worked for the governor, and which he has denied. In a letter on the portal Medium, Boylan detailed episodes as an invitation to play strip poker on the part of the politician when in 2017 both of them were flying “in their plane, paid with taxpayer taxes” and, in the presence of other collaborators and an escort, Cuomo immobilized her with his knees, sitting in front of her, proposing to play this modality of the poker that forces the loser to take off his clothes. On another occasion, in 2018, Boylan claims that Cuomo kissed her on the lips when they were alone in his office. At the end of that year, he submitted his resignation.
The witnesses to the invitation to strip poker They assured this Wednesday, through the governor’s press secretary, that that scene never happened. Cuomo himself, Italian-American, in his third consecutive term as governor, already rejected Boylan’s accusations when in December, via Twitter, he revealed the harassment. “Women have the right to express their opinion,” Cuomo concluded then, stressing that his former adviser’s tweets did not match reality. Much more blunt was his press officer on Wednesday: “The accusations of Mrs. Boylan are simply false.”
Although the alleged harassment may divert attention from what is actually a great political row, with the most progressive sector of the Democrats attacking him for months – as an outpost of an eventual struggle for the national reins of the party -, it only adds more mud splashing Cuomo in the last few weeks. In january the chain resignation of a dozen senior officials from the Department of Public Health revealed its peculiar emergency management methods, rejecting existing protocols, approved by experts, to apply its own vaccination model, while publicly disavowing their criteria. Then the case of the residences exploded, after confirming that the State of New York had lied about the real number of deaths from covid-19. Cuomo himself was forced to admit that the death toll rises to about 15,000, instead of the 8,000 that his Administration insisted on declaring for months.
Threat of ‘impeachment’
The concealment of data, which has prompted an investigation by the federal prosecutor for the eastern district of New York and the FBI, put Cuomo definitively in the trigger of his co-religionists, who had already been questioning his omnimous power, tiled by the media glare, with initiatives legislative acts of a more social nature such as a bill to tax billionaires for the benefit of the sectors most disadvantaged by the pandemic.
But with the case of nursing homes, Albany, the capital of New York and the seat of the State Capitol, has gone in a second from being a nondescript place to becoming the eye of a political hurricane: by land, sea and air, its companions they go for him. Lawmakers have petitioned to withdraw Cuomo from the emergency powers they gave him to manage the pandemic, with some proposing to subject him to a impeachment. In the struggle, the two factions of the party are faithfully represented: the bunker of the establishment in front of the renovation (or the left).
Legislator Rom T. Kim, who defines himself as “delegate of Bernie [Sanders]”On Twitter and that he lost an uncle in a residence because of the covid. And as a striker, he also took the worst part in the confrontation. Cuomo allegedly threatened to destroy his career if he continued to insist that he be held accountable, Kim said last week. In the argument of sandersista highlights the complaint that Cuomo shielded the business owners of nursing homes to exempt them from responsibility, while placing the burden of blame on the nursing home workers.
Prominent representatives of the Democratic progressive wing have been doing a handful in recent days with the mayor of the city, also a Democrat Bill de Blasio, Cuomo’s long-time rival. The antagonism between the two has been highlighted in the management of the pandemic, with antithetical measures – for example, those related to the closure of establishments or schools to avoid infections – that go so far as to use two different metrics to calculate prevalence of the virus, which is crazy for any balance. But the tip of the iceberg, now red-hot, of the fight hides a tidal wave in the background, or a tsunami if you will, “the fight to the death for the soul of the Democratic Party”, as defined by an active progressive militant from New York protected by anonymity.
It is more than an amendment to the executive management of the governor, who since last March controls decisions on confinements or administration of vaccines. What is subtly intuited at the national level has emerged in New York. The gubernatorial elections, next year and to which Cuomo, in principle, will attend – waiting to jump into the national political arena, some point out – are seen as the catalyst for change in the Democratic party. Progressive groups like the Working Families Party will fight for renewal, as the residency scandal, and alleged long-standing harassment, loom like a slab on Cuomo’s political future.
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