The top Republican in the state Senate on Friday urged New York's ethics enforcement agency to investigation allegations state resources were used to test members of Gov. Andrew Cuomo's family and those close to him in the early days of the pandemic last year.
“It does not take a stretch of the imagination to see a clear connection between Governor Cuomo using his official position as the head of state government and the unwarranted privileges provided to his own family members and close associates," Senate Minority Leader Robert Ortt wrote in the letter to the Joint Commission on Public Ethics. "Obviously, while these actions would be egregious during normal times, they are particularly unconscionable because they occurred early on during the pandemic, at a time when testing was in short supply and high demand."
Cuomo's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment. But a senior advisor to the governor has pointed to multiple people being provided with COVID-19 tests last year while supplies for the general public remained scarce, including those in the state Legislature, state officials, and the media.
The Washington Post and Albany Times Union this week reported members of the governor's family, including CNN anchor Chris Cuomo, were administered COVID tests last year by state health workers. In some instances, State Police officials drove the test kits to the Wadsworth Lab in Albany.
The ethics panel, known commonly as JCOPE, has been criticized over the years as a flawed vehicle to assess wrongdoing among the powerful in Albany. Cuomo, along with the top leaders in the state Senate and Assembly, have appointees on the board, and the governor appoints the commission's chair.