NYS Assemblyman Ron Kim and Gov. Cuomo in war of words

NY Capitol News

(WIVB) — Gov. Andrew Cuomo is allegedly in a nasty war of words with a democratic assemblyman from New York City. Several media outlets are reporting the governor called Assemblyman Ron Kim last week vowing to destroy him.

Kim, who chairs the assembly’s committee on aging has been critical of the governor’s handling of nursing homes during the pandemic. Assemblyman Patrick Burke, a Democrat from Buffalo, vouches for Kim’s character.

“I’ve known Ron Kim a lot longer than I’ve known Governor Cuomo and I can tell you that Ron Kim is a solid individual.”

NYS Assemblyman Patrick Burke (D)

The governor’s office says assemblyman Kim is flat-out lying about the call. It says in a statement “At no time did anyone threaten to ‘destroy’ anyone with their ‘wrath’ nor engage in a ‘coverup.” The governor’s office goes on to accuse Kim of spreading lies about the administration for years.

Read the statement from Rich Azzopardi, Senior Advisor to the Governor, below:

“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 ‘coverup.’ That’s beyond the pale and is unfortunately part of a years-long pattern of lies by Mr. Kim against this administration. We did ask for Mr. Kim to do the honorable thing and put out a truthful statement after he told the Governor he was misquoted in a news article, which he said he tried to correct but the reporter refused.  Kim said he would correct the story and then broke his word. No surprise.  Instead over the last six days he has baselessly accused this administration of pay to play and obstruction of justice. These continued falsehoods are why the Governor chose to speak out today.  We will not allow an unscrupulous politician to deceive New Yorkers or distort the truth.  Mr. Kim’s current statements do not even align with the comments he made at the meeting (see below).  He is without credibility as his own words demonstrate.  Lies have caused families grieving from COVID enough pain.  We understand it is our obligation to correct misstatements so families understand the true facts during COVID.

“Mr. Kim and the Governor’s office have had a long, hostile relationship.  The animosity initiated when Mr. Kim supported a bill protecting nail salon workers only to do a 180 degree reversal after he received significant funding from the owners of the nail salons.  He was criticized by good government groups at the time and the Governor’s office called his actions into question.  Mr. Kim continues to receive funding from nail salon owners and continues his attempts to remove the protections for nail salon workers.  It is an ongoing unethical situation with Kim receiving funding from owners attempting to stop our efforts to protect victimized nail salon workers.  We believe Kim’s continuing pay-to-play actions are at a minimum unethical and when and if investigated will prove to be illegal.  To be clear, neither the Governor nor his aides threatened any legislators and in fact, the meeting in questions was considered positive by those who attended.  It is the distortions of the meeting by those with different agendas that we object to.

“On the merits Mr. Kim and the NY Post and republicans argue that the state’s March 25th order on nursing homes was bad policy.  What they fail to mention is the state was following federal policy and if the Post and republicans want to play a political blame game, they should blame Donald Trump and they should have blamed Donald Trump’s since last March 25th when they promulgated the guidance.  We will stick to the facts.

“Dr. Zucker does not believe the March 25th order was wrong.  Even with the advantage of 20/20 hindsight, health experts do not believe it was wrong.  We believe it saved lives and the facts demonstrate that.  If, with the advantage of hindsight, we concluded the March 25th order was wrong, Commissioner Howard Zucker would admit that and we would take action against the federal government for malpractice in issuing flawed guidance. COVID was already in the nursing homes by the time March 25th arrived.  That is a proven fact.  Hospital beds were critical.  And that is a proven fact.  People needed hospital beds with ventilators and critical care nursing staff to save their lives.  We provided that.  Unlike other states and countries our hospital system was not overwhelmed and we went from the highest infect rate to the lowest and saved lives.  That is the irrefutable truth. 

“We do agree that we did not provide enough public information quickly enough which created a void for conspiracy theories to flourish.  We accept responsibility for creating the void and in a perfect world, the conspiracy theorists would accept responsibility also.  In a more perfect world the conspiracy theorists would stop playing politics and negatively effecting the grieving families who lost loved ones in nursing homes.  Obviously in this toxic political environment, it is not a perfect world.”

RICH AZZOPARDI
SENIOR ADVISOR TO GOVERNOR ANDREW CUOMO

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