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The Wrong Scandal Took Down Governor Cuomo

AP Photo/Seth Wenig

Andrew Cuomo’s resignation, as far as I’m concerned, was long overdue.

I’m thrilled to see his fall from grace. It is much deserved. But I can’t help thinking he resigned for the wrong scandal.

While his abhorrent behavior merited his resignation, another scandal should have brought him down much sooner.

On March 25, 2020, Andrew Cuomo ordered nursing homes to accept patients regardless of their coronavirus status. While it was still early in the pandemic, it was known even then that the elderly were more vulnerable to the virus. The policy was a disaster in the making, yet Cuomo defended it. Nursing homes “don’t have a right to object. That is the rule and that is the regulation and they have to comply with that,” Cuomo said in April, apparently unwilling to admit that he was wrong. Well, he did relent eventually. He finally rescinded the order on May 11, but the damage had been done. Cuomo enabled a massive outbreak in New York nursing homes and long-term care facilities. Who knows how many people perished unnecessarily because of that policy.

In addition to undercounting deaths, Cuomo attempted to cover up his mistake with a bogus investigation that naturally vindicated him. His administration’s investigation concluded that the decision to send patients who tested positive for the coronavirus into nursing homes was not a “significant factor” in the thousands of deaths that occurred in nursing home facilities statewide.

Adding insult to injury, the Cuomo administration report blamed nursing home staff and visitors for unknowingly infecting nursing home patients. The report, which Cuomo praised, was issued by Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker, a Cuomo appointee. Cuomo even dismissed criticism of the policy: “Older people, vulnerable people are going to die from this virus. That is going to happen despite whatever you do. Because with all our progress as a society, we can’t keep everyone alive.”

Related: Cuomo Unrepentant in Resignation Announcement

Nevertheless, the media took no interest. Conservative media had the facts, but the mainstream media was too busy making Trump the fall guy of the COVID pandemic. So those of us who knew the truth about Cuomo had to watch as he won an Emmy award for his COVID leadership and signed a book deal. We had the receipts, but the mainstream media refused to listen.

The nursing home scandal only started getting attention in the mainstream media after the New York attorney general’s report was released in January. The report documented what most of us already knew: The Cuomo administration deliberately undercounted COVID-19 deaths in nursing homes. Conservative media has been calling out Governor Cuomo’s cover-up since May 2020—while Cuomo was getting sky-high approval ratings. Cuomo’s popularity was so strong he was even being floated as a replacement for Joe Biden as the Democrats’ presidential nominee. In July, I explained in detail how the cover-up was executed. The information was out there for anyone willing to see it. The problem was that many people chose not to.

Why? Because Cuomo had pitted himself against Trump’s COVID response, and the media took Cuomo’s side. Cuomo was even rumored to be on Joe Biden’s shortlist for U.S. attorney general. And Biden latched on to Biden, calling his leadership during the pandemic the “gold standard.”

But even though Cuomo finally started getting called out for his nursing home policy and the cover-up, outrage seemed to dissipate with time. Even the Biden White House refused to condemn him for it. Biden wasn’t ever going to go down for his COVID cover-up. So despite some calls for his impeachment, Cuomo knew all he had to do was wait it out. Had it not been for the sexual harassment report, Cuomo would still be planning to run reelection.

Make no mistake about it: Cuomo’s inappropriate behavior with women was bad, but causing the deaths of thousands of New York residents and then trying to cover it up was a far more serious crime.