Linda Lacewell, one of Cuomo's senior aides accused of rewriting DOH report to cover up nursing home covid deaths, taught ethics at NYU School of Law
A senior aide of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who was accused of rewriting a report
from the state's Department of Health
(DOH), has worked as a law professor in Manhattan and taught about legal ethics in government.
The New York Times
reported that Linda Lacewell, who currently serves as the superintendent of the state's Department of Financial Services
and is an adjunct law professor at New York University School of Law
, was one of three high-level administration officials who initially intervened to conceal the nursing home coronavirus death count from the public.
The other two officials involved were Cuomo's top aide Melissa DeRosa and former advisor Jim Malatras, who returned to help the Cuomo administration with the handling of the coronavirus crisis.
Former student learns about ethics professor's "unethical" deed
Lacewell's alleged involvement in withholding the true number of nursing home deaths caught the attention of former NYU School of Law student Kevin Bell.
He tweeted that Lacewell was his law school ethics professor and that her class was called "Ethics in Government Investigations." The website Law & Crime
reported that the class Bell was referring to was actually called "Ethics in Government: Investigation and Enforcement."
Before taking over as head of financial services, Lacewell served as chief of staff and counselor to the governor where she "oversaw executive chamber operations, as well as ethics and law enforcement matters."
The health department's report was actually good for Cuomo as the 33-page report issued in July last year concluded that his policy from the early days of the pandemic was not to blame for the state's high nursing home death count.
But Cuomo's top aides apparently didn't like the 9,250 nursing home coronavirus death total
from the report because it was way ahead of the next-highest state – New Jersey, which had 6,150 at the time. (Related: Cuomo regime "undercounted" coronavirus nursing home deaths in New York.
They thought the numbers would attract criticisms to Cuomo's order in March 25 last year that directed nursing homes to admit or readmit people recently treated for coronavirus.
In response to the allegation, the governor's office released a statement that said: "The out-of-facility data was omitted after the DOH could not confirm it had been adequately verified." The statement also noted that the additional data did not change the conclusion of the report.
Several state lawmakers have called on any Cuomo administration official involved in manipulating the report to resign immediately.
"Let's be clear: if any State employee knowingly whitewashed an official report to cover up the deaths of New Yorkers, that is unacceptable and unethical, at best," Democrat Sen. Todd Kaminsky of Long Island tweeted on March 5. "We need to get answers now, and this whole thing reeks."
Fellow Democrats call for Cuomo's resignation
Democrat Sen. Rachel May of Central New York issued a statement on March 5, saying the New York Times
report angered her "beyond measure."
"If true, everyone involved in lying to the public and to the Legislature must resign immediately. And that includes the governor," she said. "Even though he is not named in this specific article, it was done in his name. It stemmed from his overweening need to burnish his public image, and it was made possible, if not inevitable, by the culture he created of secrecy and fear of retribution that has been amply documented in recent days."
Cuomo had been hearing calls for his resignation in the past few days, albeit for a different reason.
The series of sexual harassment allegations thrown against him left the high-profile Democrat fighting for his political survival
He had lost the support of almost the entire 29-member New York congressional delegation and a majority of Democrats in the state legislature.
New York's two U.S. senators, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, issued a joint statement asking for his resignation.
"Due to the multiple, credible sexual harassment and misconduct allegations, it is clear that Governor Cuomo has lost the confidence of his governing partners and the people of New York," the Democratic senators wrote. "Governor Cuomo should resign."
Cuomo's critics have increased considerably following the sexual harassment allegations. Among them were the leader of the House Democratic campaign arm, U.S. Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney; New York City progressive U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez; Buffalo-based U.S. Rep. Brian Higgins; and a group of Long Island-based state lawmakers who had been known as Cuomo loyalists before.
"The victims of sexual assault concern me more than politics or other narrow considerations, and I believe Governor Cuomo must step aside," Maloney said.
Ocasio-Cortez, in a joint statement with U.S. Rep. Jamaal Bowman, said she was concerned about the safety and well-being of the governor's staff. "We believe these women," they said.
The escalating political crisis has reached the White House. President Joe Biden, a longtime ally of Cuomo and his father, former New York Gov. Mario Cuomo, has been trying to avoid the topic although it's becoming increasingly difficult.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki declined to say whether Biden believes Cuomo should resign, but stressed that every woman who has come forward "deserves to have her voice heard, should be treated with respect and should be able to tell her story."
A defiant Cuomo insisted he would not step down and condemned his Democratic detractors as "reckless and dangerous."
"I did not do what has been alleged. Period," he said. "People know the difference between playing politics, bowing to cancel culture and the truth."
for more news and information related to the people running the government.