ALBANY, NY – The Attorney General’s Office has expanded its investigation into the sexual harassment allegations against Governor Andrew Cuomo to see if one of his top advisors linked access to Covid-19 vaccines in support of Governor The Reason.
Investigators interviewed at least three Democratic District executives who said they were surprised to receive calls from Larry Schwartz, a volunteer advisor who oversaw vaccine distribution for the state, and asked if they are calling for Mr. Cuomo’s resignation would.
Mr Schwartz contacted more than half a dozen executives in early March, executives said, as Mr Cuomo faced mounting demands for his resignation from members of his own political party and personally reached out to state lawmakers to bolster support.
The officers said that at the time of Mr. Schwartz’s calls they usually spoke to him about vaccine supply distribution rather than politics.
Mr Schwartz said he did not link vaccine distribution to political considerations. On Friday, he referred questions to his attorney Guy Petrillo, who refused to comment.
Mr Schwartz, an executive at an airport concession company, resigned from his post as vaccination czar for the state last week after lawmakers changed lobbying rules for unpaid state advisors. Under the new rules, Mr Schwartz would have been forbidden to stand up for the office of governor for two years if he had remained in that role.
Beth Garvey, Mr. Cuomo’s attorney, said in March of the calls that “the distortion of Larry’s role or intentions for headlines turns a decade-long official down.
Larry Schwartz recently resigned as New York State Vaccine Czar after lawmakers changed lobbying rules for unpaid state advisors.
John Lamparski / Zuma Press
A spokesman for Mr Cuomo declined to comment on Friday. A spokeswoman for Attorney General Letitia James declined to comment on an ongoing investigation.
The Attorney General’s investigation is one of several ongoing investigations against Mr Cuomo and his administration. The U.S. law firm for the Eastern District of New York is investigating administrative guidelines for Covid-19 and nursing home deaths during the pandemic. Leaders of the democratically dominated State Assembly have said they are conducting an investigation into Mr Cuomo’s conduct while they are considering whether to indict him. The last impeachment of a New York governor took place in 1913.
Mr Cuomo has said that he has never touched anyone inappropriately and apologized when his behavior offended someone. He said his administration was involved in the investigation. He has also repeatedly said that people should wait for the results of Ms. James’ investigation.
“I’ve already told the New Yorkers where I am. I didn’t do anything wrong, period. And I’m not stepping back and doing my work every day, ”said Mr. Cuomo on Monday.
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County executives are the top elected officials in the state. Some large counties have residents of approximately one million or more, and their governments play key roles in implementing public health and social service programs for the state, including vaccine distribution. The governor has appeared regularly with county executives in Westchester and Suffolk Counties, which are major political swing districts.
A district chief filed a complaint about Mr Schwartz’s call to the attorney general’s office in March, according to people familiar with the matter.
“At the time when every county was working and desperately in need of more vaccines, receiving a call from the person in charge of allocating those doses to show political allegiance to the governor was an obvious conflict and, at best, ethically gray measure, “he said a district manager who received a call from Mr. Schwartz.
Erie County’s executive Mark Poloncarz said he spoke to investigators on March 30 about the call he received from Mr Schwartz. Mr Poloncarz, a Democrat, said he did not feel that Mr Schwartz was trying to pressure him to stand by the governor. Mr Poloncarz did not ask for Mr Cuomo’s resignation.
Investigators in Ms. James’ office have questioned at least six of the accusers for sexual harassment of Mr. Cuomo, according to the women and their lawyers. They also issued dozens of subpoenas to current and former Cuomo administration officials, according to those familiar with the matter.
At the end of April, investigators asked Alphonso David, who was Mr Cuomo’s lawyer until 2019, about the office culture and Lindsey Boylan, a person familiar with the matter. Ms. Boylan said Mr. Cuomo sexually molested her while she was working as a government economic development consultant from 2015 to 2018. The governor said Ms. Boylan’s statements were not true.
Mr David, who is now President of the Human Rights Campaign, an LGBT advocacy group, has not returned any requests for comment.
Write to Jimmy Vielkind at [email protected]
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