Suffolk County executive receives call from Cuomo's vaccine czar

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone tells News 12 Monday morning that he received a call from Gov. Andrew Cuomo's vaccine czar.

News 12 Staff

Mar 15, 2021, 8:25 PM

Updated 1,134 days ago

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Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone tells News 12 Monday morning that he received a call from Gov. Andrew Cuomo's vaccine czar.
According to reports in The Washington Post and The New York Times, longtime adviser to Cuomo, Larry Schwartz, who is 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.
The report says one Democratic county executive who was not named was so disturbed by the call from Schwartz that an ethics complaint was filed with the state attorney general's office.
The executive feared the county's vaccine supply could suffer if the executive did not indicate support for Cuomo, the Post reported.
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."
Bellone tells News 12, "Last Friday, I had a conversation with Larry Schwartz who reached out to discuss whether I was supportive of the governor. I explained that there were serious allegations made and that I was supportive of an independent investigation. At no point did the topic of vaccine distribution come up during the call."
News 12 has reached out to Nassau County Executive Laura Curran, but has not heard back yet.
Nassau County Legislature Presiding Officer Richard Nicolello is now calling on Curran to respond as to whether or not she received a call.
"The New York Times reported yesterday that members of the Cuomo administration, including State Vaccine Czar Larry Schwartz, reached out to multiple Democrat county executives across the state to gauge support for the scandal ridden governor in one breath, and talk about vaccine allotments in another," says Nicolello. "The majority is calling upon County Executive Curran to immediately disclose whether or not she was called, and what the outcome of the call was. Nassau residents deserve to know if their supply of the life-saving vaccine is now contingent upon political support for the governor."
Acting Counsel to the Governor Beth Garvey released on a statement, saying, "Vaccine distribution in New York is based on objective criteria to ensure it matches eligible populations, ensure equity, and ability to rapidly administer shots in arms. To be clear, Larry's conversations did not bring up vaccine distribution -- he would never link political support to public health decisions. Distorting Larry's role or intentions for headlines maligns a decades long public servant who has done nothing but volunteer around the clock since March to help New York get through the COVID pandemic. Any suggestion that Larry 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." 


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