Assemblyman Ron Kim told CNN that he received a threatening phone call from New York Governor Andrew Cuomo last Thursday. The assemblyman says that Gov. Cuomo threatened his career.
“Gov. Cuomo called me directly on Thursday to threaten my career if I did not cover for Melissa [DeRosa] and what she said. He tried to pressure me to issue a statement, and it was a very traumatizing experience,” Kim said. Kim continued to detail Gov. Cuomo’s threats, “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.”
DeRosa is a top aide to the governor. Last week she told state lawmakers in a private virtual meeting that the state had delayed sharing with the legislature the full scope of the Covid-related death toll of New York’s nursing home residents because of concerns about a potential federal investigation by the Department of Justice.
Gov. Cuomo has faced heavy criticism in the past weeks after a New York attorney general’s report revealed that his administration undercounted nursing home-related deaths by approximately 50%. Kim has criticized Gov. Cuomo’s handling of the deaths and believes his uncle died in a nursing home from COVID-19 last year. Kim believes that Gov. Cuomo should apologize to the families that lost loved ones in nursing homes from COVID-19.
“No man has ever spoken to me like that in my entire life,” Kim expressed. “At some point, he tried to humiliate me, asking, ‘Are you a lawyer? I don’t think so. You’re not a lawyer.’ It almost felt like in retrospect he was trying to bait me and anger me and say something inappropriate. I’m glad I didn’t.”
Gov. Cuomo’s team released a statement saying, “Kim’s assertion that the governor said he would destroy him’ is false.” Kim’s wife overheard the conversation and was moved to tears when it ended.
“That night was very, very troubling because we couldn’t sleep, and she’s telling me, ‘What did you do to us? Stop what you’re doing. Please,'” Kim said. “She feared for my future, for my life.”
“There is no undoing here. They have blood on their hands,” Kim said. “We’re talking about his record of performance in the last 10 months.”
Kim is not the only lawmaker to have received fierce pushback and even threats from Cuomo and his top aides since last week, according to three additional Democratic New York lawmakers.
According to CNN, a poll conducted by Siena College showed that 55% of New York voters believe he has done a fair/poor job in providing data about COVID-19 nursing home deaths, while 39% of voters believe the governor has done an excellent or good job.