Investigation Into Former Gov. Cuomo Shows He Misrepresented Nursing Home COVID Deaths

The New York Assembly's investigation into former Gov. Andrew Cuomo found he misrepresented the number of deaths related to COVID in nursing homes, Democratic Assembly Member Phil Steck said.

Cuomo's administration decided to exclude the deaths of patients transferred to hospitals from its overall death tolls for nursing homes, The Associated Press reported. Investigators from the New York City law firm Davis Polk & Wardwell confirmed that the state Department of Health wanted the inclusion of those deaths in the totals for nursing home fatalities.

This information comes from a report the law firm put together to look into allegations against Cuomo, including inappropriate staff work on a book deal and claims of sexual harassment.

"The investigation showed that as they were considering these matters, the book deal was going on, there's a chapter in the book about nursing homes," said Steck, who represents sections in the Albany area. "They were trying to make it as what they thought was least damaging to the governor instead of just telling the truth."

Republican Assembly Member Mary Beth Walsh said the law firm attempted to interview witnesses regarding the misrepresented nursing home death toll, but Cuomo's resignation hindered the process.

"I believe that the timing of the governor's resignation really kind of truncated the investigation and the ability to investigate on that," said Walsh, whose district includes parts of Saratoga and Schenectady counties. "Several individuals who were scheduled to be subpoenaed did not cooperate after the governor's resignation."

It was known to Cuomo's administration that the count was unfinished, but his officials said this was due to the time it would take to certify the numbers. This action wasn't done to make the state's death toll appear better or to shield Cuomo's reputation, health officials maintained.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

Andrew Cuomo, Investigation, Nursing Home Death Toll
In this file photo, Theresa Sari, left, and her daughter Leila Ali look at a protest-memorial wall for nursing home residents who died from COVID-19, including Sari's mother Maria Sachse, March 21, 2021, in New York. A state Assembly committee investigation found former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo's administration made a political decision to misrepresent how many nursing home residents died of COVID-19. Seth Wenig/AP Photo, File

Cuomo's spokesperson, Rich Azzopardi, said Friday that the former governor and his team still hadn't been allowed to see a copy of the Assembly report, or all the investigators' evidence.

"The Assembly Judiciary Committee has chosen not to review their findings with us which is their prerogative, but it may once again result in a one-sided report," Azzopardi said.

Cuomo resigned in August to avoid a likely impeachment trial in the wake of another investigation that found he sexually harassed 11 women. That investigation was led by two independent investigators hired by the state's attorney general.

Walsh said the report presented "overwhelming evidence" that Cuomo harassed the women who came forward.

Cuomo, who now faces a criminal charge that he groped an aide's breast, has denied touching anyone inappropriately.

On the subject of Cuomo's $5.1 million book deal, Steck said the report makes "very clear" that the then-governor violated conditions set by the state ethics committee, which had said Cuomo couldn't use state resources or staff on the project.

Investigators found that Cuomo ordered some state employees to work on the book, and while some said they volunteered their private time to do so, Steck said "there wasn't enough time in the day for it to be voluntary work and for them to still be able to work on official state business."

Ethics commissioners this week rescinded their approval of Cuomo's book deal.

Walsh, a former Saratoga assistant county attorney, said that could "open the door" to an ethics fine.

Andrew Cuomo, Investigation, Nursing Home Death Toll
It was known to former Gov. Andrew Cuomo's administration that there were deaths left out of the count. His administration officials said this was due to the time it would take to certify the numbers. In this photo, Cuomo declares a state of emergency on July 6, 2021 in New York City. Spencer Platt/Getty Images