August 18, 2022

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Cuomo administration’s stonewalling goes considerably further than nursing dwelling fatalities

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ALBANY – Throughout the midst of the pandemic, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo found time to generate a 300-site guide about his administration’s response to COVID-19.

But Cuomo’s workplace – citing constraints brought on by the pandemic – for months, in reaction to a Liberty of Information Law request, has refused to provide a few internet pages of paperwork confirming whether or not the governor adopted point out ethics policies ahead of putting his reserve offer.

It is one of numerous examples of the Cuomo administration’s prolonged-standing practice of stonewalling or delaying requests for information. That alleged observe was arguably disclosed on Jan. 28 when point out Legal professional Common Letitia James’ business issued a report discovering that Cuomo’s administration had below-documented COVID-19-connected deaths at nursing residences by 50 %.

For months, state legislators, a non-partisan assume tank and news organizations had sought facts that would give a legitimate picture of the loss of life toll in nursing services. Within hrs of James’ report, point out Office of Health and fitness Commissioner Howard Zucker released the numbers, following months of stating that an ongoing “audit” — for accuracy — experienced prevented the release of the information and facts.

Then past Wednesday, point out Supreme Courtroom Justice Kimberly O’Connor issued a ruling requiring the health section to give the documents supporting the dying count to the Empire Middle for Community Policy, which had sued the administration for the data. O’Connor found that Cuomo’s administration experienced violated state legislation and its “broad normal of open up and transparent governing administration.”

Armed with new figures, the Empire Center’s Monthly bill Hammond documented that New York’s COVID-19 mortality charge in nursing residences had jumped from thirty-fifth maximum in the nation to thirteenth, a probable explanation for the administration’s reticence to release the figures.

Continue to, on several other fronts, the administration continues to frustrate makes an attempt to get public information.

When Cuomo ran for his 1st phrase in 2010, he promised to work “the most transparent” administration in background. In the ten years due to the fact, that promise has usually not been realized. Right here are a handful of examples involving the Occasions Union, other media, and actors inside of authorities itself.

Cuomo’s guide deal

When a state federal government personnel seeks to generate outdoors profits, they’re required to respond to a few thoughts in producing, then post the info to New York’s ethics oversight agency, the Joint Fee on Public Ethics. All those guidelines day back again to at minimum 1990, according to a JCOPE spokesman.

But the Periods Union has uncovered that in 2012, when Cuomo sought approval for his initially guide as governor, “All Items Possible,” the letter that Cuomo’s govt counsel submitted to JCOPE did not have all the required solutions.

The letter from Cuomo’s business office to JCOPE did not include things like the “variety of hours of do the job for every 7 days” Cuomo would expend on the reserve nor “the instances and times when the perform will be performed.” Whilst quantifying the several hours expended crafting a e book can be tricky — Cuomo’s newest perform was largely the item of a diary — there is precedent for the details to be detailed.

The 2012 letter did not disclose whether the publisher HarperCollins did enterprise with state authorities. JCOPE’s disclosure sort states the governing administration worker ought to record irrespective of whether their exterior action “consists of a man or woman or entity that does business enterprise with … your agency or any other condition company.” (HarperCollins’ parent enterprise, Information Corp., had intensive condition organization, according to lobbying data, however the disclosure sort does not indicate that JCOPE would call for that information to be stated.)

Nevertheless, that yr, then-JCOPE govt director Ellen Biben accepted Cuomo’s guide deal. The letter from Cuomo’s place of work to JCOPE, and Biben’s acceptance letter, were launched in a report issued by a “JCOPE evaluate panel” in late 2015. In the several years considering the fact that, JCOPE has repeatedly confronted inquiries about a deficiency of independence from the governor.

Cuomo’s business has delayed releasing the details submitted to JCOPE even though seeking approval for Cuomo’s 2nd ebook as governor, “American Disaster,” printed in Oct. The place of work also has declined to present a copy of JCOPE’s letter approving Cuomo’s newest guide.

The Instances Union submitted two appeals underneath the Freedom of Information and facts Law, arguing that examining a several pages of documents should not choose months, but the Govt Chamber refused to budge. Cuomo’s office environment pinned the delay on the function troubles posed by COVID-19.


Cuomo’s governmental counsel workplace – which would commonly recommend the governor on his paperwork submission to JCOPE – is associated in selecting whether or not the general public receives to scrutinize individuals paperwork.

Richard Azzopardi, a Cuomo senior advisor, stated that just before the publication of “American Disaster,” all facts “required and asked for was delivered and approval was granted just as it was for the past book in 2012.”

Citing the language of the disclosure principles, he additional: “As previously described, the publishing entity [Crown Publishing Group] is not regulated by/does not have/seeks to do/nor recently has done enterprise with the state.”

Azzopardi would not instantly remedy a concern, nevertheless, about irrespective of whether Cuomo’s business delivered all facts that JCOPE’s web-site states is required, which include the hours that Cuomo prepared to perform just about every week on the e book.

In a statement, Licha Nyiendo, ‎Cuomo’s special counsel for general public integrity, also addressed the extensive delays confronted by individuals submitting Independence of Information and facts Regulation requests with state governing administration.

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