A longtime former adviser to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the Democrat’s so-called “COVID-19 czar,” Larry Schwartz, abruptly resigned from his post on Thursday following an ethics law change, the Daily Caller reported.
The New York legislature recently repealed a law that granted “volunteer” status to any official who was assisting in coronavirus response efforts.
Schwartz had returned to Cuomo’s administration in March 2020 at the governor’s urging to head up the state’s response to the pandemic, and he’d used that law to shield him from restrictions that would apply when he returned to the private sector. Most recently, Cuomo put Schwartz in charge of the vaccine rollout in the state.
With the law’s repeal, Schwartz would have had to file financial disclosures and would be banned from any lobbying efforts for two years after leaving his position, even though he was unpaid and was working on a volunteer basis, as the Daily Caller noted.
Stepping down amid controversy
“At the request of Governor Cuomo, I returned to public service over a year ago as a volunteer to help in the battle against COVID,” Schwartz said in a statement, according to the Daily Caller.
“As a lifelong resident, I take pride in helping my fellow New Yorkers,” he said, adding that he had originally planned to resign in mid-May.
Schwartz’s resignation comes as Cuomo continues to fight multiple allegations of sexual harassment and misconduct, mostly from staffers who worked for him.
A state ethics complaint had also been filed against Schwartz after the allegations against Cuomo broke, saying that Schwartz had called county officials in the state to gauge their loyalty to and support for the governor in light of the claims.
One of the officials complained, but wanted to remain anonymous because of Cuomo’s history of retaliating against political opponents, as the Daily Caller reported separately.
The future for Cuomo
The loss of a key ally like Schwartz may be a sign of dwindling support for Gov. Cuomo, who has steadfastly declared his innocence amid the allegations and refused to resign.
Still, he’s facing numerous calls to step down as governor from both sides of the political aisle not just over the sexual misconduct allegations, but also over accusations that he covered up the extent of coronavirus-related deaths in his state’s nursing homes for months as he was publishing a book trumpeting his response to the pandemic.
Cuomo and several other governors had ordered nursing homes to accept COVID-positive seniors back into their facilities in an effort to free up hospital beds during the initial wave of the disease, when officials were concerned that medical facilities would be overwhelmed by patients needing emergency care.