The U.S. Department of Justice has reportedly subpoenaed material related to a book that New York Democrat Governor Andrew Cuomo wrote during the pandemic as investigators continue their criminal investigation into coronavirus-related nursing home deaths.
“Prosecutors working for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York in Brooklyn asked for communications related to Mr. Cuomo’s October 2020 book, ‘American Crisis,’ including contracts and materials used to pitch the book to publishers, the people said,” The Wall Street Journal reported. “They said the subpoenas indicated prosecutors are interested in nursing-home issues in the book, which more broadly recounted the governor’s response to the pandemic.”
News broke back in February that federal prosecutors had launched a criminal investigation into the way that the Cuomo administration had handled nursing homes and other long-term care facilities during the pandemic. New York Attorney General Letitia James released a scathing report in late January that found that the Cuomo administration underreported the number of nursing home residents who died from the coronavirus by up to 50%.
The Wall Street Journal reported in March that federal prosecutors were investigating a push by the Cuomo administration during the early days of the pandemic to shield nursing homes from lawsuits and criminal prosecution.
“Nursing homes were included in a provision giving liability immunity to doctors, hospitals and their executives, as well as healthcare workers on the front lines of the coronavirus outbreak last spring, surprising some lawmakers and healthcare officials,” the report said. “Federal prosecutors’ examination of how nursing homes came to be included in the immunity law is part of a broader probe into the Cuomo’s administration’s actions regarding nursing homes during the Covid-19 pandemic.”
The Guardian reported in May 2020 that Cuomo’s “political apparatus got a last-minute boost” during his 2018 primary race from “a powerful healthcare industry group” which “suddenly poured more than $1m into a Democratic committee backing his campaign.”
The Guardian reported:
Less than two years after that flood of cash from the Greater New York Hospital Association (GNYHA), Cuomo signed legislation last month quietly shielding hospital and nursing home executives from the threat of lawsuits stemming from the coronavirus outbreak. The provision, inserted into an annual budget bill by Cuomo’s aides, created one of the nation’s most explicit immunity protections for healthcare industry officials, according to legal experts.
Critics say Cuomo removed a key deterrent against nursing home and hospital corporations cutting corners in ways that jeopardize lives. As those critics now try to repeal the provision during this final week of Albany’s legislative session, they assert that data prove such immunity is correlating to higher nursing home death rates during the pandemic – both in New York and in other states enacting similar immunity policies.
Federal prosecutors are also investigating whether Cuomo gave his brother, CNN host Chris Cuomo, and other close associates priority access to coronavirus testing during the early days of the pandemic.
Cuomo is also facing investigations over allegations of sexual misconduct and his administration’s handling of an investigation into broken bolts on the Gov. Mario M. Cuomo Bridge.
This report has been updated to include additional information.