Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is already under massive fire over allegations of sexual misconduct and reports that his administration underreported the state’s nursing home COVID-19 death toll.
Now, multiple new revelations have emerged that claim the embattled governor granted preferential treatment to his family and friends — not to mention well-connected New Yorkers — when determining who could receive COVID-19 tests in the early days of the pandemic, Fox News reports.
Ethical and legal concerns
The alleged behavior is said to have occurred during the months when testing opportunities remained scarce among members of the general public. Unsurprisingly, the governor is now receiving widespread accusations of selfish, inappropriate, and potentially illegal misuse of his own state’s resources.
The latest allegations were first reported by the Albany Times-Union, which cited multiple unnamed sources said to have “direct knowledge” of what occurred. The individuals claimed that Cuomo provided priority testing to his relatives, including his mother, at least one sister, and his brother, CNN host Chris Cuomo.
Some of those family members, the sources claimed, received multiple state-administered tests during this period. Top officials within the governor’s administration also allegedly received preferential treatment.
The tests were reportedly often administered by state health officials in the recipient’s home with the sample then labeled “critical” and rushed to a lab along with a state police escort. Results were said to be delivered within a matter of hours — at the same time, the average New York resident had little chance of even receiving a test in the first place, much less receiving the results so quickly.
According to The Washington Post, the allegations raise a number of serious ethical and legal questions, the most prominent of which involves the appearance that Gov. Cuomo utilized state resources to personally benefit himself and those close to him.
“Insincere efforts to rewrite the past”
New York law specifically prohibits any state official from using “his or her official position to secure unwarranted privileges or exemptions for himself or herself or others, including but not limited to, the misappropriation to himself, herself or to others of the property, services or other resources of the state for private business or other compensated non-governmental purposes.”
On top of that, Virginia Tech bioethicist and epidemiologist Lisa Lee noted how “frustrating” it was to see influential and wealthy citizens receive tests before the state’s essential workers, calling the entire ordeal “morally problematic.”
For his part, however, the governor has remained defiant throughout the multiple scandals that have plagued him so far this year, refusing to entertain growing demands that he resign.
In a statement following the latest claims, spokesperson for the governor Rich Azzopardi railed against “insincere efforts to rewrite the past.”
A CNN source also responded to the allegations involving Chris Cuomo, according to Fox, declaring: “We generally do not get involved in the medical decisions of our employees. However, it is not surprising in the earliest days of a once-in-a-century global pandemic, when Chris was showing symptoms and was concerned about possible spread, he turned to anyone he could for advice and assistance, as any human being would.”