New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) might have caught a lucky break when mainstream media organizations largely shifted focus away from the multiple scandals he’s still facing, but it seems life at the governor’s mansion is still anything but calm behind the scenes.
According to the Washington Examiner, Peter Ajemian, Cuomo’s communications director, announced on Friday that his time working for the New York governor has come to an end. Ajemian was at least the ninth aide in Cuomo’s office to resign in the wake of the governor’s mounting scandals, reports noted.
Leaving Team Cuomo
As most aides to scandal-ridden politicians tend to do upon their departures, Ajemian thanked the governor Friday for allowing him the opportunity to serve — and made no mention of the negative press Cuomo has faced over the past year.
“After nearly four years, and with this year’s budget done and vaccine eligibility open to everyone, I decided now is the time to pursue opportunities in the private sector,” the former comms director said in a statement, according to the Examiner.
“I’m grateful to the governor for giving me the chance to serve. It’s been the honor of a lifetime to be part of a team working for New Yorkers in a period of unprecedented crisis and seeing the government work for the people and people work for each other,” he added.
Ajemian was quickly replaced by a senior adviser to Cuomo, Rich Azzopardi, who hinted in his statement on Ajemian’s departure that working for Cuomo hasn’t exactly been the easiest job in the world in recent weeks.
“Peter has spent nearly four years in the administration taking on the hard challenges during even harder circumstances,” Azzopardi’s own statement reportedly read. “There’s nobody I’d rather be in the trenches with and know he’ll always be a part of Team Cuomo.”
A new scandal emerges
Cuomo, for his part, faced intense criticism earlier this year as a number of women — mostly former staffers — made varying levels of sexual harassment or sexual assault allegations against him. In more than one instance, many political talking heads believed the governor was close to resigning.
But that resignation never came, and attention to the scandal — along with reports of the governor’s botched response to COVID-19 in his state’s nursing homes — was eventually overtaken by other national issues. Unfortunately for Cuomo, it’s not over yet, though.
According to Bloomberg News, the troubled Democratic governor is once again making headlines as the New York state attorney general’s office has announced that it’s expanding its investigation into him after learning that a volunteer adviser to the governor who oversees vaccine distribution, Larry Schwartz, had reportedly called several Democratic county executives and inquired into whether they’d be publicly calling for Cuomo’s resignation at the peak of the scandals, as other Dems had done.
Schwartz denied reports that there was any tie between vaccine distribution and rounding up public support for the embattled governor, but the claims have clearly been taken seriously enough to result in an expanded probe.
Only time will tell if anything comes as a result of the newly beefed-up investigation, but Cuomo will eventually have to answer for all of the accusations he’s facing — and it’s anyone’s guess if he’ll emerge unscathed, or be forced out of public office forever.