Cuomo counsel pushes back on 'vaccine czar' reports
NEW YORK - Gov. Andrew Cuomo toured a mass-vaccination site in Old Westbury, Long Island, on Monday and got a boost from Tracey Edwards, who is also the Long Island regional director of the NAACP.
"You stay continuing to lead us through this crisis because we need you," she said.
This event was not open to the press so reporters were unable to ask the governor questions.
It followed media reports over the weekend that close Cuomo ally and state vaccination czar Larry Schwartz called some county officials to gauge their loyalty to the governor. One county official was so unnerved that Schwartz might be linking his support to the number of vaccines the county would receive that the official filed a complaint with the state attorney general's office, according to reports.
Report: Cuomo's 'vaccine czar' called state officials to assess support amid allegations
The White House responded on Monday.
"We were concerned of course about the reports of this inappropriate behavior," White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said. "But we also have a number of steps that are already in the system to ensure that people of New York or the people of any state are getting the vaccines distributed fairly and equitably."
Mayor Bill de Blasio called for an investigation into "why a senior official in the governor's office clearly tried to link vaccine supply to political support."
The governor's acting counsel, Beth Garvey, issued a statement about Schwartz's calls to county officials.
"To be clear, Larry's conversations did not bring up vaccine distribution," Garvey said. "He would never link political support to public health decisions."
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Biden breaks his silence on Cuomo sexual harassment scandal
Cuomo faces allegations of sexual harassment and misconduct.
Charlotte Bennett has accused Cuomo of asking her about her comfort with sexual intimacy, her thoughts about relationships with older men, and many other inappropriate questions about her sex life.
Her lawyer, Debra Katz, said on Monday that Bennett met for more than four hours via Zoom with outside investigators as part of the investigation by Attorney General Letitia James.
"The investigators have been moving quickly, and with sensitivity," Katz said. "She also provided detailed information about the sexually hostile work environment the governor fostered in both his Manhattan and Albany offices."
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Acting Counsel to the Governor Statement
"Vaccine distribution in New York is based on objective criteria to ensure it matches eligible populations, ensure equity, and ability to rapidly administer shots in arms. To be clear, Larry's conversations did not bring up vaccine distribution — he would never link political support to public health decisions. 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. Any suggestion that Larry acted in any way unethically or in any way other than in the best interest of the New Yorkers that he selflessly served is patently false." —BETH GARVEY, Acting Counsel