A month later, Cuomo received the 2020 International Emmy Founders Award in recognition of his daily briefings at the height of the pandemic, which were seen as an effective way to communicate with the public during a scary time.
The governor’s national public image could not have been better. In contrast with former President Donald Trump’s lack of leadership, many Americans looked to Cuomo for answers.
Here in New York, however, lawmakers were still needling him about the high number of nursing home deaths. Cuomo’s critics attacked him from the right and the left, with Flushing Assemblyman Ron Kim emerging as one of the most prominent voices demanding accountability.
Those voices were given a boost in late January, when Attorney General Letitia James released a report that found that the Cuomo administration undercounted the number of nursing home deaths by nearly half.
Cuomo’s top aide, Melissa DeRosa, then reportedly told state lawmakers that the state withheld the nursing home information out of fear that federal investigators would use it against them. Suddenly, the governor’s sparking reputation as a competent crisis manager began to crack in the eyes of the public.
Then came Cuomo’s personal vendetta against Kim, who recounted a call from the governor threatening his political career. Legislators, long bullied by Cuomo and his allies, backed up Kim’s claims, with some even sharing their own tales of intimidating phone calls and other tactics by the governor.
Now, the governor is under federal investigation for the nursing home death toll undercount. Not only are state lawmakers pushing to revoke the emergency powers that were granted to him during the pandemic, but several, including Kim, are calling for his resignation.
The last few weeks have been a whirlwind for the three-term governor, who has been exposed as a bully by his fellow Democrats. He may face consequences for his actions, which is exactly the kind of accountability that elected leaders in power need.
The public is finally scrutinizing Cuomo’s actions for what they are. Only then can we fully understand the impact of his decisions.