A dozen state Assembly Democrats showed an outpouring of support for Ron Kim, the Queens assemblyman who says Gov. Andrew Cuomo threatened to “destroy” him over the nursing home death scandal.
“We are deeply disturbed by the Governor’s attacks on our colleague — a fellow Democrat — Assemblymember Kim,” said the statement, issued by Assembly members Harvey Epstein, Tom Abinanti, Khaleel Anderson, Robert C. Carroll, Emily Gallagher, Jessica Gonzalez-Rojas, Andrew Hevesi, Anna Kelles, Zohran Mamdani, Marcela Mitaynes, Yuh-Line Niou and Phara Souffrant-Forrest.
The lawmakers also said they backed legislation introduced by Kim on Tuesday seeking to strip Cuomo of his pandemic-related emergency powers — after Secretary to the Governor Melissa DeRosa admitted in a call that the administration withheld data about nursing home deaths.
A letter signed by nine Democratic Assembly members also accused Cuomo of obstruction of justice and demanded an investigation into his handling of the health crisis in nursing homes.
“As a co-equal branch of government, the Legislature is well within its rights to seek oversight of executive action. In fact, we have a duty to seek that oversight,” the lawmakers wrote in the statement.
They continued, “It is our job to represent our constituents and seek answers to the tragedies that took place in nursing homes around the State. We have no interest in name calling — we aim to restore the proper balance of power between the Legislature and Executive” branches.
Kim, whose uncle died of coronavirus in a nursing home, was among Democratic lawmakers who were on the conference call with DeRosa when she made the stunning admission.
He then claimed he was the target of a nasty phone call from Cuomo on Feb. 11, in which the governor threatened “I can tell the whole world what a bad person you are and you will be finished” if Kim didn’t help do damage control over the death-toll debacle.
Cuomo’s office has denied he threatened Kim, and accused the assemblyman of lying.
State Sen. Alessandra Biaggi also issued a statement defending Kim, calling him a “north star in the fight for transparency and justice for those lost to COVID-19 in nursing homes.”
“Governor Cuomo’s statements today about Assemblymember Kim are part of a disturbing pattern of behavior from the Governor,” said Biaggi in a statement Wednesday. “Instead of accepting responsibility for mistakes, the Governor has chosen to deflect blame and evade accountability time and time again.”
She also pointed to the surge in hate crimes against Asian Americans, calling Cuomo’s comments “dangerous.”