New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo faces a growing number of allegations he and his subordinates routinely threaten critics, with two New York politicians – a former Democratic congressional candidate and a Republican ex-rival of Cuomo’s – recounting to Forbes their hostile experiences with the governor’s staff.
Nate McMurray, a two-time House candidate in Western New York, told Forbes that after criticizing Cuomo for plans to attend a Buffalo Bills game, he received a call from a Cuomo aide on New Years Eve that began “you motherf***er,” before devolving into threats like “you’re done in politics.”
McMurray said he took down his tweet after the call because he was “scared” and looking for a job after his run, adding that he’s heard from people in both Cuomo’s staff and the New York legislature about a “pervasive culture of fear that has trickled down from his office.”
“We’ve all been yelled at by someone in that administration,” Marc Molinaro, a Republican county executive in upstate New York who ran against Cuomo in 2018, told Forbes, adding, “It’s unacceptable but how they operate.”
Assemblywoman Yuh-Line Niou, tweeted that she was “flooded” with stories from people who said they were “bullied, mistreated, or intimidated” by Cuomo, a statement echoed by former Cuomo aide Lindsey Boylan, who has previously accused him of harassment.
Alessandra Biaggi, a Democratic state senator, told the New Yorker Cuomo once asked her to “tell me again how your grandfather’s career ended,” which she perceived as a threat given that her grandfather, Mario Biaggi, resigned over a corruption scandal – though a Cuomo spokesperson told the New Yorker it was about the “importance of integrity in government.”
Fox News meteorologist Janice Dean tweeted that she was told by someone close to the Cuomo family to “‘Watch my back,’” when she began speaking out against him prolifically over the coronavirus-related deaths of her parents, who were both nursing home residents.
Cuomo’s office did not immediately respond to a list of questions from Forbes regarding these allegations.
The fresh allegations come after Assemblyman Ron Kim has alleged Cuomo called him to demand he “cover up” for an aide who reportedly admitted to concealing data on coronavirus deaths in nursing homes, and that Cuomo told him, “I can destroy you.” Cuomo aide Rich Azzopardi, who said he was in the room when Cuomo made the call, shot back that Kim is “lying,” while Cuomo himself said his administration has a “long and hostile relationship” with Kim. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said the alleged threat is “classic Cuomo.”
“It’s like gangster stuff,” McMurray said of his interactions with Cuomo and his team, which allegedly included an effort to push him out of a House race in 2018. McMurray noted that he has supported Cuomo in the past, including during the coronavirus pandemic, but said he would not vote for him in the future. “We’ve had three terms of Gov. Cuomo, I think it’s time to move on,” he stated.
Initially hailed for his coronavirus response last year, Cuomo has increasingly come under fire from adversaries and allies alike for his handling of coronavirus deaths in nursing homes, which reportedly number just under 13,000 as of Jan. 19 – up from a tally of 8,505 before the Cuomo administration confirmed thousands of additional deaths. Cuomo has defended his handling of nursing home deaths and instead said he was “not aggressive enough” in rebutting critics.
What To Watch For
Leaders in the Democrat-controlled state senate are now moving to strip Cuomo of emergency powers they granted him at the start of the pandemic, which allowed him to override state laws in order to combat the virus. Mike Gianaris, the No. 2 ranking Democrat in the chamber, has said they have the votes. Cuomo also faces investigations by the FBI and federal prosecutors.