Gov. Andrew Cuomo is standing by a former high aide who’s accused of political arm-twisting on his behalf whereas overseeing the COVID-19 vaccine rollout — actions for which the ex-staffer is now under investigation by the state Attorney General’s Office.
Cuomo informed reporters Monday that former secretary to the governor Larry Schwartz “did a phenomenal job” because the state’s vaccine czar, including, “I have total confidence in him.”
But Cuomo additionally repeatedly stated that Schwartz was a “volunteer” when he allegedly requested county officers about their loyalty to the governor amid planning to distribute what have been then extraordinarily restricted vaccine provides.
“Larry Schwartz was a volunteer, helping the vaccine effort on his own time,” Cuomo stated throughout a information convention at his Manhattan workplace.
On Saturday, two Democratic county executives informed The Post that they had been contacted by state investigators in regard to their conversations with Schwartz.
One described present process a “formal interview” over Zoom that lasted an hour, throughout which the investigators requested copies of related cellphone data and textual content messages.
The interviews have been a part of an expanded, unbiased probe by Attorney General Letitia James right into a collection of misconduct allegations leveled towards Cuomo in current months, the Wall Street Journal reported Saturday, citing sources aware of the matter.
The probe, which is being conducted by outside attorneys, was initially targeted on accusations that Cuomo sexually harassed feminine aides and later grew to incorporate allegations that he used state workers to assist put together and promote his best-selling memoir.
Cuomo’s spokesman has additionally claimed these workers “volunteered” their time.
But that assertion was challenged last month, together with by a former aide who reportedly stated the efforts have been “not optional” and “considered a part of your job.”
The interviews about Schwartz adopted experiences — together with in The Post — during which county executives described getting calls from him in obvious response to the deluge of sexual harassment allegations enveloping Cuomo on the time.
Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone, a fellow Democrat, stated that Schwartz “reached out to discuss whether I was supportive of the governor.”
“I explained that there were serious allegations made and that I was supportive of an independent investigation,” Bellone informed The Post.
Another, unidentified county govt informed the New York Times that Schwartz positioned an identical name instantly after the official completed a dialog in regards to the vaccination effort with a Cuomo administration official.
That county govt’s authorized counsel filed a preliminary grievance with the legal professional common’s workplace, alleging a possible ethics violation, the Times stated, citing a supply with information of the grievance.
Cuomo’s workplace has insisted that Schwartz “did not bring up vaccine distribution” throughout his conversations with the assorted officers.
“Distorting Larry’s role or intentions for headlines maligns a decades’ long public servant who has done nothing but volunteer around the clock since March to help New York get through the COVID pandemic,” spokesman Rich Azzopardi stated this previous weekend.