(The Center Square) – The fallout from the bombshell New York Post report on state officials withholding information on nursing homes during the COVID-19 pandemic continued Friday as Republican leaders called for swift action, including the possible removal of Gov. Andrew Cuomo from office.
The Post revealed Thursday that Melissa DeRosa, secretary to Cuomo, told Democratic legislators in a closed-door meeting that the number of nursing home deaths due to the coronavirus could be evidence used against the administration in criminal investigations.
State Republican Chairman Nick Langworthy said in a statement that DeRosa, the “second most powerful person” in New York government, confessed to breaking state laws and obstructing justice.
“Andrew Cuomo has abused his power and destroyed the trust placed in the office of governor,” Langworthy said. “Prosecution and impeachment discussions must begin right away.”
Senate Minority Leader Rob Ortt, R-North Tonawanda, told reporters Friday morning anything’s possible, but he wanted an investigation first.
“Everyone involved has to be held accountable, investigated and prosecuted, if necessary,” he said.
He also chided his Democratic colleagues, saying that if they continue to deny efforts to subpoena administration officials, then they are complicit with Cuomo and state officials.
In a statement issued late Friday morning, DeRosa said the conference call with Democratic legislators was to explain that a federal investigation into the nursing home deaths forced the administration to hold off on fulfilling state lawmakers’ demands.
“As I said on a call with legislators, we could not fulfill their request as quickly as anyone would have liked,” she said. “But we are committed to being better partners going forward as we share the same goal of keeping New Yorkers as healthy as possible during the pandemic."
The reports were enough for some Democratic senators to join their GOP colleagues in wanting to do away with the emergency orders Cuomo has issued during the pandemic.
“Enough is enough,” tweeted state Sen. Jeremy Cooney, D-Rochester. “I am joining several of my Democratic colleagues in calling for the Senate to expeditiously repeal the Governor’s authority to issue emergency directives as it relates to the pandemic.”
Cooney was one of 14 Democratic senators who issued a joint statement saying granting the governor emergency power is no longer appropriate.
In an interview Thursday – prior to the Post’s report – with The Center Square, state Sen. Joseph Addabbo, D-Queens, said everyone needs to work together. That means Democrats and Republicans, executive branch and legislators and cities and the state.
“I can only tell you what I hear from my constituents,” he said. “They are frustrated at some of the decisions, and they've asked me, ‘Hey, can you get these powers back?’”