Few Heroes in the Cuomo Saga

Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul is now assuming the office of her former boss and offers a neat-and-tidy excuse for not addressing the egregious conduct of the former governor.

She claims before an unquestioning CNN newscaster that Gov. Cuomo’s misconduct of sexually preying on women and toxic bullying of detractors happened in an “insular environment.”

Hochul wanted to stress to her constituents that she traveled a great deal in her capacity as lieutenant governor, oftentimes flying over the very offices where the egregious misconduct was taking place. Gossip around the office water cooler is one thing. But facts are another. So this public servant waited for an opportune moment to address the governor’s alleged scandalous behavior.

Hochul decided to condemn Cuomo’s activities at a time when it was too late for the 175 witnesses who offered evidence in an investigation, but in plenty of time for the 2022 gubernatorial race. She found her boss’ behavior “repulsive and unlawful toward multiple women,” according to a statement she made after the release of the New York attorney general’s investigative report. It was a good thing she was “never close” to the powerful lawmaker, even though they served two terms together stretching over nearly eight years.

As part of her statement, Hochul heaped praise where it was due: “I believe these brave women and admire their courage coming forward.” Many of these brave women found themselves alone in the political trenches. They were not only alone but they rightfully worried about Cuomo derailing their careers.

One of the 11 women, Lindsey Boylan, filed a civil suit against Cuomo claiming she was targeted in a smear campaign by the governor’s legal team. “He is gaslighting and revictimizing us,” Boylan said after coming forward with her allegations. “He is showing everyone what happens to women when they speak up about harassment and abuse in the workplace.”

There were few voices of outrage at the time Cuomo and his political minions were working overtime to deny the allegations. Could Hochul not have known about this open secret? Many of Cuomo’s most ardent detractors claimed the worst of the governor’s misdeeds were being sidelined by the sensational headlines over sexual predatory behavior.

Assemblyman Ron Kim (D-NY) is one of the few legislators to come forward and out Cuomo for his most egregious “criminal acts.” He demanded an investigation into Cuomo’s “reckless and negligent” behavior of placing elderly COVID-infected patients with vulnerable uninfected seniors at nursing home facilities throughout New York. Among the elderly to die of COVID at a senior facility was former US Army Capt. Son Kim, the uncle of Assemblyman Kim.

No one knows better than Kim why so few dared to challenge the governor’s “reckless” policy. Cuomo’s relentless bullying tactics were well known to those in the inner circle, and even outside the Albany orbit. Kim would find himself on the receiving end of Cuomo’s efforts to steamroller him when the assemblyman insisted on a full investigation of the crisis taking place at nursing homes.

He accused the governor of engaging in a “coverup” and “under-reporting deaths by as much as 50 percent.”

“He (governor) called me directly… to threaten my career if I did not cover up for Melissa DeRosa (spokesperson for Cuomo) and what she said,” referencing the aide’s statement that a coverup was ordered. (DeRosa alleged the Cuomo administration had instructed aides to doctor a report on nursing home deaths.)

The assemblyman was to become a perennial thorn in the side of the governor. Ironically, one of the few politicians willing to defend Kim and his allegations of being “threatened” by Cuomo was Mayor Bill de Blasio.

Kim’s integrity was tested at a time Cuomo was raised to star status by a fawning media. The absurdity of this theatre must have struck Kim as particularly perverse: The assemblyman alleged Cuomo revealed to him a totally different persona: Someone who threatened to “destroy him” and advised him that he had “not experienced his wrath.” All the while, Hollywood added to the crescendo of adoration by bestowing an Emmy on Cuomo for his leadership performance at press conferences.

Kim is young and idealistic enough to retain the altruistic vision of what it means to be a politician in service of the people. His own words attest to his naiveté and unique approach to politics: “The governor wanted me to lie and cover everything up to protect him, and I wasn’t going to have that,” Kim said. “The public has a right to know, and we have a duty to report to the public that this is what’s going on with the executive, and we need to check the executive and we need to do our jobs to get to the truth.”

Hopefully, Hochul is taking notes from Kim.

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