Governor Andrew Cuomo has come under fire in recent days after his top aide admitted that the state withheld the number of nursing home residents who died from COVID-19 over concerns it would be politicized by then-President Donald Trump
However, Cuomo quickly turned his frustration toward state Assemblyman Ron Kim for his criticism of the governor’s handling of the nursing home situation in a New York Post article.
Assemblyman Kim said that right after that story broke, he received a call from the governor.
“I was in the middle of trying to bathe my kids and my wife was there, and I pick up and was like, 'Oh governor,” Kim explained. “And there was silence. And then the first words to come out of his mouth, ‘Are you an honorable man?’ And then all I heard was this yelling and berating. Shocking stuff, to the point where my wife, she was next to me and overheard, her face is turning pale.
“He’s saying you’ve never seen my wrath,” Kim continued, “I would destroy your career. I will go out tomorrow and tell everyone how bad of a person you are. I have been biting my tongue. I know you. I’ve been biting my tongue about you. It was scary enough where my wife was shaking for almost two hours after the call and she couldn’t sleep that night.”
Cuomo, through his staff, attempted to call Kim eight more times that weekend.
Kim even showed his phone logs.
“I could deal with the yelling, even though it was infuriating in the moment,” Kim said. “But I realized after a couple days when he tried to call me again many times, that there was clearly an unethical element to this, when he’s asking me to cover up the cover up.”
The governor’s chief advisor denies these allegations, saying in a statement:
"Mr. Kim is lying about his conversation with Governor Cuomo Thursday night. I know because I was one of three other people in the room when the phone call occurred. At no time did anyone threaten to 'destroy' anyone with their 'wrath,' nor engage in a 'cover up.'”
Deputy Senate Majority Leader Mike Gianaris, who has had his own run-ins with the governor in the past, said he believes Kim’s story about the governor’s phone call.
“I completely believe Ron Kim, there is no question about it,” Gianaris said. “I think there is a lot of people in and around state government over the last decade who find Ron Kim’s story very familiar.”
Next week, the Senate is expected to vote on a bill that would limit the governor’s emergency powers.
The exact bill language is still being flushed out, but according to sources, it would also establish a commission made up mostly of Democratic lawmakers that would have to approve Cuomo’s executive orders within 24-72 hours.
“We came up with a process that allows for the legislature to continue to have a role, but also allows for it to move more quickly than would typically be the case,” Gianaris said.
State Assembly Democrats have not said if they would support this specific bill, but they are expected to conference on Monday.