America’s Democratic governors are having a rough February.
Last week, organizers of a recall effort against Gov. Gavin Newsom (D-CA), the leader of America’s largest blue state, announced that they had successfully gathered the 1.5 million signatures necessary to invoke a new gubernatorial election. This week, Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-NY), the chief executive of America’s second-largest blue state, is facing an FBI investigation and related efforts from the state legislature to strip away his emergency powers.
Gov. Cuomo — who has served as U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, Attorney General of New York, and Chair of the National Governors Association — heads a gubernatorial administration notorious for immersing itself in scandals and executing aggressive far-left policies.
Here are five of his worst moves as leader of New York.
Sending COVID-Positive Seniors Into Nursing Homes
Gov. Cuomo joined four other Democratic governors in forcing senior citizens infected with COVID-19 into their nursing homes.
Between the release of Cuomo’s directive on March 25 and its reversal on May 10, at least 4,500 recovering COVID-19 patients were readmitted to their nursing homes. With 5,700 deaths, New York subsequently led the nation in nursing home deaths.
In early 2021, allegations of a cover-up effort from the governor’s office became public. Cuomo staffer Melissa DeRosa told lawmakers that the administration had undercounted COVID-19 deaths.
“And basically, we froze,” DeRosa said during a meeting. “Because then we were in a position where we weren’t sure if what we were going to give to the Department of Justice, or what we give to you guys, what we start saying, was going to be used against us while we weren’t sure if there was going to be an investigation” by then-President Trump’s Department of Justice.
State lawmakers then moved to revoke Cuomo’s emergency powers.
“Without exception, the New York State Constitution calls for the Legislature to govern as a co-equal branch of government,” read a letter endorsed by over a dozen Democratic state senators. “While COVID-19 has tested the limits of our people and state — and, early during the pandemic, required the government to restructure decision making to render rapid, necessary public health judgments — it is clear that the expanded emergency powers granted to the Governor are no longer appropriate.”
“While the executive’s authority to issue directives is due to expire on April 30, we urge the Senate to advance and adopt a repeal as expeditiously as possible,” they said.
Days later, New York Assemblyman Ron Kim (D-NY) told CNN that Cuomo threatened retribution if he did not assist in suppressing reports of undercounted nursing home deaths.
“He tried to pressure me to issue a statement, and it was a very traumatizing experience,” explained Kim, who added that Cuomo allegedly communicated that “we’re in this business together and we don’t cross certain lines and he said I hadn’t seen his wrath and that he can destroy me.”
The FBI and the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York are in the early stages of an investigation into Cuomo’s nursing home policies.
Banning Religious Services
Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Gov. Cuomo has been particularly zealous in his enforcement of limits upon religious activity.
“Individuals should not gather in houses of worship, homes, or other locations for religious services until the end of this public health emergency,” read his April executive order. “If possible, religious leaders should consider alternative forms of worship, replacing in-person gatherings with virtual services, such as phone or conference calls, videoconference calls, or online streaming.”
The Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn, an Orthodox Jewish organization, and two synagogues challenged the policy. In November, the Supreme Court issued a 5-4 ruling in favor of the religious groups, with Justice Amy Coney Barrett casting the deciding vote.
“Members of this Court are not public health experts, and we should respect the judgment of those with special expertise and responsibility in this area,” said the majority opinion. “But even in a pandemic, the Constitution cannot be put away and forgotten. The restrictions at issue here, by effectively barring many from attending religious services, strike at the very heart of the First Amendment’s guarantee of religious liberty. Before allowing this to occur, we have a duty to conduct a serious examination of the need for such a drastic measure.”
“Government is not free to disregard the First Amendment in times of crisis,” added Justice Neil Gorsuch in a concurring opinion.
As of February 2, the New York state government mandates all religious and funeral services to stay within 50% of maximum capacity. The state also maintains a ban on all singing unless twelve feet of separation can be established between congregants.
Codifying Roe v. Wade
Gov. Cuomo signed a bill that removed most restrictions on abortion in the Empire State.
New York’s Reproductive Health Act scrapped language in the penal code that extended legal protections to unborn babies more than twenty-four weeks old. In celebration, Cuomo lit One World Trade Center’s spire pink at the beginning of 2019.
“The Reproductive Health Act is a historic victory for New Yorkers and for our progressive values,” said the governor. “In the face of a federal government intent on rolling back Roe v. Wade and women’s reproductive rights, I promised that we would enact this critical legislation within the first 30 days of the new session — and we got it done.”
Fifteen months later, the top of the Empire State Building was lit in red to honor first responders addressing New York City’s COVID-19 outbreak.
Passing Aggressive Gun Control Measures
Following the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in 2012, Gov. Cuomo rushed to enact sweeping restrictions on gun ownership.
Upon passage of the Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement (SAFE) Act, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman explained that the legislation marked “decisive action to protect New Yorkers from gun violence.” The law expands the state’s assault weapons ban, limits magazine capacity, and imposes new background checks on New Yorkers.
Schneiderman said that the legislature and Gov. Cuomo “deserve credit” for passing the bill.
Striking down many of the SAFE Act’s provisions, U.S. District Judge William Skretny took issue with the law’s vague language that seemingly arose from its hasty passage.
For instance, Skretny annulled the legislation’s ban on pistols defined as “semiautomatic version[s] of an automatic rifle, shotgun or firearm.” He explained that “an ordinary person cannot know whether any single semiautomatic pistol is a ‘version’ of an automatic one.” Accordingly, “the statute provides no criteria to inform this determination.”
Breaking Campaign Finance Rules
In violation of his own executive order, Gov. Cuomo solicited donations from his political appointees.
Eliot Spitzer — Cuomo’s predecessor — enacted an executive order to stop appointees from donating to governors’ campaigns. On his first day in office, Cuomo renewed the order. However, a New York Times investigation revealed that Cuomo had “reinterpreted” the directive and solicited campaign funds in exchange for slots in his administration.
For instance, Steven Weiss gave the governor $53,000 after his nomination to the New York State Housing Finance Agency in 2011. Five years later, he earned an appointment to the Roswell Park Cancer Institute’s state board. Kenneth Manning, who Cuomo tapped for a judicial screening committee in 2011, was appointed to the same cancer research board in 2016.
Indeed, the investigation showed that Cuomo raised over $890,000 from two dozen appointees. He also earned $1.3 million from the officials’ family members and businesses.
The views expressed in this piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.