Reports: Cuomo vaccine czar’s loyalty calls raise concerns

A longtime adviser to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo leading the state’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout has been calling county executives to gauge their loyalty to the Democratic governor amid a sexual harassment investigation, according to reports in The Washington Post and The New York Times.

Associated Press

Mar 15, 2021, 9:22 PM

Updated 1,125 days ago

Share:

A longtime adviser to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo leading the state’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout has been calling county executives to gauge their loyalty to the Democratic governor amid a sexual harassment investigation, according to reports in The Washington Post and The New York Times.
One Democratic county executive, who was not named by the newspapers, was so disturbed by the call from vaccine “czar” Larry Schwartz that the executive filed notice of an impending ethics complaint with the public integrity unit of the state attorney general’s office on Friday, the newspapers reported.
The executive feared the county’s vaccine supply could suffer if the executive did not indicate support for Cuomo, the Post reported.
Schwartz served as secretary to the governor from 2011 until 2015 and has advised Cuomo off and on since then. He returned last spring to assist the administration with the response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Schwartz, who is working in a volunteer capacity to run New York’s vaccine distribution, acknowledged making the calls to county executives, but told the Post he did not discuss vaccines in the conversations.
“I did nothing wrong,” Schwartz told the newspaper. “I have always conducted myself in a manner commensurate to a high ethical standard.”
But the phone calls could raise questions about an intermingling of politics with the state’s coronavirus response.
“People do not see calls coming from the governor’s mansion as somebody wearing one hat and then putting on another hat,” Arthur Caplan, director of medical ethics at the NYU Grossman School of Medicine, told the Post. “If you are in control of a vital supply of a lifesaving resource like vaccines, you are carrying an enormous amount of implicit clout when you ask for political allegiance.”
Cuomo is facing allegations that he sexually harassed or behaved inappropriately toward six women, including several former staffers. He has denied touching any women inappropriately.
The three-term governor has rejected calls for his resignation from fellow Democrats, including New York’s two U.S. senators, Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, and has asked New Yorkers to await the results of an investigation headed by state Attorney General Letitia James.
Schwartz told the Post that the calls he made to assess political support for Cuomo were distinct from the role he plays in the vaccination effort.
“I did have conversations with a number of County Executives from across the State to ascertain if they were maintaining their public position that there is an ongoing investigation by the State Attorney General and that we should wait for the findings of that investigation before drawing any conclusions,” he wrote in an email.
Beth Garvey, acting counsel to the governor, said in a statement emailed to The Associated Press through a Cuomo spokesperson on Sunday that any assertion Schwartz “acted in any way unethically or in any way other than in the best interest of the New Yorkers that he selflessly served is patently false.”
“Larry answered our call to volunteer in March and has since then worked night and day to ‎help New York through this pandemic, first managing surge capacity, and procuring necessary supplies for the state, setting up the contact tracing efforts, and now assisting with vaccine distribution,” the statement said.


More from News 12
0:28
Nassau and Suffolk police step up patrols at synagogues amid increased Middle East tensions

Nassau and Suffolk police step up patrols at synagogues amid increased Middle East tensions

2:17
Strong thunderstorm threat looms for Sunday night on Long Island

Strong thunderstorm threat looms for Sunday night on Long Island

1:54
Long Island fire departments hold recruitment events amid decline in enrollment

Long Island fire departments hold recruitment events amid decline in enrollment

0:24
Police: Car crashes onto guardrail, overturns on LIE in Brentwood; driver injured

Police: Car crashes onto guardrail, overturns on LIE in Brentwood; driver injured

Booms and sirens in Israel after Iran launches over 200 missiles and drones in unprecedented attack

Booms and sirens in Israel after Iran launches over 200 missiles and drones in unprecedented attack

0:38
'Pearls of Wisdom' tea event in Riverhead aims to empower young Black women

'Pearls of Wisdom' tea event in Riverhead aims to empower young Black women

0:52
Splish Splash hosts 8th annual Polar Plunge fundraiser for Special Olympics athletes

Splish Splash hosts 8th annual Polar Plunge fundraiser for Special Olympics athletes

0:36
Long Island residents participate in Oyster Bay beach and harbor cleanup

Long Island residents participate in Oyster Bay beach and harbor cleanup

0:24
Prosecutors: Central Islip man indicted for killing Bay Shore teen during attempted robbery

Prosecutors: Central Islip man indicted for killing Bay Shore teen during attempted robbery

1:46
Lynbrook PBA donates ‘communication board’ to school playground

Lynbrook PBA donates ‘communication board’ to school playground

1:35
CDC: Measles could lose 'elimination status' amid uptick across the U.S.

CDC: Measles could lose 'elimination status' amid uptick across the U.S.

1:57
7 motorized scooters stolen from Williston Park garage; thieves contacted victim offering to sell them back

7 motorized scooters stolen from Williston Park garage; thieves contacted victim offering to sell them back

1:51
Dozens come out to exhibit to purchase art pieces depicting scenic North Shore

Dozens come out to exhibit to purchase art pieces depicting scenic North Shore

0:26
Shirley man pleads guilty to murder, setting victim's body on fire

Shirley man pleads guilty to murder, setting victim's body on fire

0:20
Freeport photographer accused of forcibly touching teen at Lindenhurst studio

Freeport photographer accused of forcibly touching teen at Lindenhurst studio

0:41
Judge dismisses Blakeman's lawsuit against AG's office connected to transgender athlete ban

Judge dismisses Blakeman's lawsuit against AG's office connected to transgender athlete ban

0:22
Officials: Fire breaks out at home near Wyandanch High School

Officials: Fire breaks out at home near Wyandanch High School

0:28
Police: Yonkers man charged for Old Westbury gas station robbery from nearly a year ago

Police: Yonkers man charged for Old Westbury gas station robbery from nearly a year ago

0:32
Beloved Franklin Square principal returns to Polk Street School following unexplained leave of absence

Beloved Franklin Square principal returns to Polk Street School following unexplained leave of absence

0:47
Long Island Restaurant Week: Lake View Grill, Legends, Dimon Estate

Long Island Restaurant Week: Lake View Grill, Legends, Dimon Estate