ALBANY, N.Y. (WIVB) – In a second statement in as many days, the acting counsel for Governor Andrew Cuomo is defending Larry Schwartz, New York State’s vaccine czar and longtime ally to Cuomo.
The New York Times and Washington Post reported over the weekend that Schwartz in recent weeks asked county officials about their support for the governor, who is facing at least seven allegations of sexual harassment and misconduct. Despite bi-partisan calls for his resignation and an impeachment investigation in the New York State Assembly, Cuomo has said he will not step down.
“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,” Cuomo’s acting counsel Beth Garvey said in her latest statement Monday. “To be clear, Larry’s conversations did not bring up vaccine distribution — he would never link political support to public health decisions.”
But Republicans seized on the latest round of reporting.
“This is an illegal quid pro quo,” said New York State Republican Chairman Nick Langworthy. “It’s downright disgusting that once again, New Yorkers lives have been put at risk to protect this governor’s political power.”
According to the Washington Post, one Democratic county executive was “unsettled” by Schwartz’s outreach that they filed notice of an impending ethics complaint with the New York State Attorney General’s Office.
But Garvey again said Monday any suggestion that Schwartz acted unethically was patently false.
“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,” she added.
A spokesperson for Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz, a Democrat, said Poloncarz did not receive such a call.
A new poll from Siena released Monday shows half of New York voters believe Cuomo should not resign, compared to 35% who believe he should step down.
Chris Horvatits is an award-winning reporter who joined the News 4 team in December 2017. See more of his work here.