Person

Andrew Cuomo

Born:

December 6, 1957

Party:

Democrat

Occupation:

Former governor of New York State (resigned August 2021)

Andrew Cuomo is a Democratic politician best known as the former governor of New York. Cuomo resigned as governor in August 2021 after a series of scandals, starting with alleged information cover-ups regarding his role in forcing nursing homes to accept COVID-19 patients, and concluding in a series of sexual harassment allegations.

Cuomo is the son of three-term New York Governor Mario Cuomo (D). After starting his career working on his father’s first gubernatorial campaign, Andrew Cuomo briefly worked in the private sector and then started a low-income housing charity. His first big political break was while working for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development under President Bill Clinton; he assumed leadership over the department after the former secretary resigned. Cuomo then ran a disappointing campaign for governor of New York, briefly left politics, and then returned with a successful run for state attorney general. Four years later, Cuomo was elected governor for the first time and remained in office until 2021.

Cuomo was known for his “tough guy” leadership style, pragmatic politics, and gruff speech which often led to gaffes, including an incident which may have cost him his first gubernatorial election. Prior to his resignation, Cuomo intended to run for reelection in 2022, and was a longstanding potential Democratic presidential candidate.

Family

Mario Cuomo

Andrew Cuomo’s father Mario Cuomo was a lawyer and Democratic politician who served as secretary of state, lieutenant governor, and then-longest serving governor of New York. Over twelve years as governor, Cuomo emerged as a national Democratic leader for his left-of-center policies and outspoken opposition to President Ronald Reagan. Cuomo was twice tapped to run for president, but declined both times. He lost his fourth run against Republican Governor George Pataki (R-NY). Andrew Cuomo worked on his father’s gubernatorial campaigns and for his transition team. [1] [2]

Chris Cuomo

Andrew Cuomo’s youngest brother, Chris Cuomo, is a television pundit currently featured on CNN and formerly on ABC. Chris had largely avoided reporting on his brother to avoid conflicts of interest, though in 2013, CNN blocked an attempt by Chris to interview Andrew. However, in spring 2020, Chris began to regularly interview his brother on-air about the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. While the interviews garnered high ratings, they attracted criticism that Andrew Cuomo was using his brother’s position in the media to spin public opinion. Chris consistently praised Andrew and supposedly failed to ask critical questions about his most controversial policies. [3]

In February 2021, as Andrew faced mounting sexual harassment allegations, CNN ended the Cuomo interview segments. Chris publicly recused himself from covering his brother on journalistic integrity grounds. However, Chris continued to act as a private adviser to Andrew and allegedly used his media contacts to attempt to help Andrew weather public criticisms. [4]

On November 30, 2021, the New York Attorney General’s office released new information which revealed that Chris Cuomo had played a larger role in assisting his brother’s defense then he had previously indicated. [5] On November 31, CNN announced they had suspended Chris Cuomo from the network, issuing in a statement, “these documents point to a greater level of involvement in his brother’s efforts than we previously knew. As a result, we have suspended Chris indefinitely, pending further evaluation.” [6] He was later fired from CNN on December 4 “effective immediately” around the same time as a sexual assault allegation had been brought forward against him by a “former junior colleague [of Cuomo’s] at another network.” [7] [8]

Early Career

After earning a law degree from Albany Law School in 1982, at age 25, Andrew Cuomo served as the campaign manager for his father, Mario Cuomo, on his first gubernatorial election in the same year. After Mario was elected governor, Andrew managed his father’s transition team and served as an advisor to his administration. [9] He gained a reputation as a tough “enforcer” who coordinated behind-the-scenes political maneuvers for his more genial father. Contemporaries also noted his ambition and likely desire to one day become president. [10]

In 1984, Andrew Cuomo became an assistant district attorney in New York City. In 1986, he began a foray into the private sector, first briefly working for the law firm, Blutrich, Falcone and Miller, and then founding the nonprofit Housing Enterprise for the Less Privileged (HELP). [11] From 1990-1993 Cuomo served as the chair of the New York City Homeless Commission under Mayor David Dinkins (D-NYC). [12]

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development

In 1993, Andrew Cuomo was appointed assistant secretary for community planning and development in the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) in President Bill Clinton’s administration. In 1997, Cuomo took over HUD after former secretary Henry Cisneros resigned due to a perjury investigation by the FBI. [13]

In 2010, the New York Times gave Cuomo a “mixed” evaluation of his four years as HUD Secretary. The Times credited Cuomo for warning the Clinton administration about the dangers of predatory loans and excessive subprime mortgages which would eventually trigger the 2008 financial crisis. However, Cuomo took few practical measures to limit subprime lending or tighten standards, and he pushed Freddie Mae and Fannie Mac to lend more aggressively to low-income Black and Latino citizens. Cuomo was especially criticized for reversing his publicly held opposition to yield spread premiums (commissions for loan officers who found high-interest paying clients) due to heavy lobbying from banks. Partially due to Republican pressure and partially due to Cuomo’s streamlining efforts, HUD cut 15% of its staff during his term. [14]

2002 Gubernatorial Election

In 2002, Andrew Cuomo ran for governor of New York. Due to his father’s legacy as a three-term governor, and his experience in the federal government, Cuomo emerged as an early favorite among the Democratic candidates. In April, Cuomo faced criticism for attacking incumbent Republican Governor George Pataki with, “Pataki stood behind the leader. He held the leader’s coat. He was a great assistant to the leader. But he was not a leader. Cream rises to the top, and Rudy Giuliani rose to the top.” [15]

The remark was considered a crass attempt to politicize the recent September 11 terrorist attacks, and Cuomo’s momentum quickly faded. Cuomo was further hurt by Governor Pataki’s leftward political maneuvering which earned him prominent union endorsements that eroded Cuomo’s base. In September, Cuomo dropped out of the race. Comptroller Carl McCall (D-NY) lost against Governor Pataki in the general election. [16]

New York Attorney General

In 2006, Andrew Cuomo was elected attorney general of New York in what was considered a major political comeback after his disappointing 2002 gubernatorial campaign. [17]

The New York Times also gave Cuomo a “mixed” evaluation for his tenure as attorney general. While Cuomo was praised for major prosecutions against health insurance companies and corrupt policemen, he was criticized for being overly-focused on the spotlight, likely to build toward his future political ambitions. For instance, Cuomo allegedly delayed investigations into claims that then-Mayor Michael Bloomberg (I-New York City) engaged in illegal lobbying, and later Cuomo received a key endorsement from Mayor Bloomberg in 2010 while running for governor. [18]

U.S. Senate

In 2006, U.S. Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY) resigned to serve as U.S. Secretary of State under President Barack Obama. Andrew Cuomo was considered a top contender to replace Senator Clinton and led the polls in popular support. Then-U.S. Representative Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) was chosen to replace Senator Clinton. [19]

Governor of New York

In 2010, Andrew Cuomo ran for governor of New York a second time after President Barack Obama signaled his support for Cuomo over then-Governor David Paterson (D-NY). [20] Cuomo won the general election over Tea Party-based Carl Paladino (R-NY) with 61% of the vote. Cuomo would be reelected two more times and planned a fourth campaign until his resignation. [21]

As governor, Cuomo was known for his forceful leadership style, dependence on back-room deals, and pragmatic politics. Though he favored liberal policies, such as the legalization of same-sex marriage and higher taxes, he often worked with moderate Republicans. Cuomo received both praise and criticism for his gruff communication style, which occasionally veered into public insults against political rivals, supposedly leading to the end of an alliance with New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio (D). [22]

Gubernatorial Appointee Donations Controversy

On his first day in office, Governor Cuomo renewed an executive order which prohibited gubernatorial appointees from donating to gubernatorial campaigns. However, Governor Cuomo received substantial donations from appointees, their families, and companies connected to them throughout his time as governor, including $500,000 from a single appointee. When questioned on the matter, Governor Cuomo claimed to interpret the executive order to only apply to appointees who could be fired at-will by the governor. Former Governor Elliot Spitzer (D-NY), who first issued the executive order, later stated that Governor Cuomo had contradicted its intent and letter of the executive order. [23]

Same-Sex Marriage

In June 2011, in accordance with a campaign promise, Governor Cuomo signed the marriage equality act, making New York the eighth state to legalize same-sex marriage. Similar legislation had been defeated two years earlier by Republicans in the state legislature. [24]

COVID-19 Pandemic

Governor Cuomo garnered tremendous praise and criticism for his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. New York was one of the worst hit states in the country, with the state sustaining 18% of national deaths (with only 6% of the U.S. population) by fall 2020. [25]

Governor Cuomo received early criticisms for his delayed response to the arrival of the pandemic. In early March, when New York got its first cases, Governor Cuomo resisted extraordinary measures such as social distancing recommendations and school closures, and claimed that the state would be able to control and quell the outbreak due to its experience with Zika, Ebola, H1N1, and other past pandemics. New York rapidly became one of the most infected states, with New York City becoming the most infected major city in the U.S. [26]

By late spring, Governor Cuomo reversed course and issued some of the toughest lockdown measures in the U.S. Daily case rates fell to among the lowest in the country by the fall, though the early surge of cases and relatively high level of immunity likely contributed to the low rates. Governor Cuomo’s strict lockdown policies have garnered support from most public health officials. [27]

Governor Cuomo received immense personal admiration during the height of the pandemic, particularly from Democrats who saw his leadership style as the reverse of President Donald Trump’s. Governor Cuomo hosted daily press briefings to update the media on the state of the pandemic, and he began to regularly speak to his brother, Chris Cuomo, on CNN for lighthearted, personable interviews. In November, Governor Cuomo received an international Emmy for his press briefings and announced plans for a $5 million book deal about his pandemic leadership. Late night talk shows referred to Cuomo supporters as “Cuomosexuals.” [28]

However, Governor Cuomo also received harsh criticisms for his policies. On March 25, 2020, Governor Cuomo issued an advisory forcing nursing homes to accept COVID-19 patients to limit the pressure on hospitals. At the time, the scientific consensus had already established that the elderly were among the most vulnerable to the virus, and by September, 26% of COVID-19 deaths in New York had occurred in nursing homes. [29]

As the nursing home deaths mounted, Governor Cuomo began to face questions about his culpability. Though a New York State Health Department report claimed that Governor Cuomo’s advisory had little impact on nursing homes, news reports featured many health experts dismissed the report and believed that Governor Cuomo’s orders directly led to many deaths. [30]

In early 2021, after mounting pressure from critics and the media, Governor Cuomo revealed that 9,000 individuals had died in nursing homes by June 2020. In March 2021, the FBI launched an investigation to determine whether Governor Cuomo or his aides had doctored the initial New York State Health Department report to remove the death figure to protect the governor. Shortly after, the FBI reported that Governor Cuomo’s aides had removed the reported number of nursing home deaths from the New York State Health Department report. [31] The extent of Governor Cuomo’s personal role in the data cover-ups is still unknown and under investigation. [32]

In August 2021, Governor Cuomo’s successor, Gov. Kathy Hochul (D-NY), released previously unreported data that revealed 12,000 addition deaths in New York nursing homes under Governor Cuomo. [33]

Sexual Harassment Allegations and Resignation

On August 3, 2021, New York Attorney General Letitia James (D) released a report detailing eleven sexual harassment and assault allegations against Governor Andrew Cuomo that ranged from inappropriate comments to groping and included one instance of unlawful retaliation against an accuser. Governor Cuomo denied the more serious allegations while acknowledging that he had unintentionally spoken inappropriately at times. [34]

On August 13, 2021, Governor Andrew Cuomo resigned. In his resignation speech, Governor Cuomo apologized for some incidents, attributed others to his old-fashioned manner of speech, and ultimately blamed his downfall on political motivations. [35]

According to Politico, since his resignation, Cuomo has amassed $18 million in unused campaign funds (previously for a planned fourth reelection campaign) to launch a smear campaign against Governor Kathy Hochul (D-NY), who had served as Cuomo’s Lieutenant Governor and allegedly betrayed him for political gain. [36]

References

  1. “Biography.” Governor Mario Cuomo. Accessed September 17, 2021. https://www.governormariocuomo.com/biography. ^
  2. “Andrew Cuomo.” Biography.com. Accessed September 17, 2021. https://www.biography.com/political-figure/andrew-cuomo. ^
  3. Shepard, Alex. “CNN Owes Its Viewers An Apology.” The New Republic. August 11, 2021. Accessed September 17, 2021. https://newrepublic.com/article/163247/cnn-andrew-chris-cuomo-covid-resign. ^
  4. Shepard, Alex. “CNN Owes Its Viewers An Apology.” The New Republic. August 11, 2021. Accessed September 17, 2021. https://newrepublic.com/article/163247/cnn-andrew-chris-cuomo-covid-resign. ^
  5. Darcy, Oliver, Sonia Moghe, and Brian Stelter. “CNN to Conduct ‘Thorough Review’ of Documents Showing Chris Cuomo’s Intimate Role Advising Brother Andrew Cuomo.” CNN Business, November 30, 2021. https://www.cnn.com/2021/11/29/media/chris-cuomo-documents-under-review/index.html. ^
  6. Darcy, Oliver, and Brian Stelter. “CNN Suspends Chris Cuomo Indefinitely.” CNN, December 1, 2021. https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/politics/cnn-suspends-chris-cuomo-indefinitely/ar-AARjKdy?ocid=BingNewsSearch. ^
  7. Miller, Ryan. “Chris Cuomo Fired by CNN after Helping Brother Andrew amid Sexual Harassment Scandal.” Yahoo! News, December 4, 2021. https://www.yahoo.com/news/chris-cuomo-fired-cnn-helping-231900122.html. ^
  8. Stelter, Brian. “CNN Fires Chris Cuomo.” CNN Business. CNN, December 5, 2021. https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/cnn-fires-chris-cuomo/ar-AARtoxZ?ocid=uxbndlbing. ^
  9. “Biography.” Governor Mario Cuomo. Accessed September 17, 2021. https://www.governormariocuomo.com/biography. ^
  10. Smith, Chris. “The Albany Machiavelli.” New York Magazine. April 12, 2013. Accessed September 25, 2021. https://nymag.com/news/features/andrew-cuomo-2013-4/. ^
  11. [1] “Biography.” Governor Mario Cuomo. Accessed September 17, 2021. https://www.governormariocuomo.com/biography. ^
  12. Dugger, Celia W. “Report to Dinkins Urges Overhaul in Shelter System for the Homeless.” New York Times. January 31, 1992. Accessed September 25, 2021. https://www.nytimes.com/1992/01/31/nyregion/report-to-dinkins-urges-overhaul-in-shelter-system-for-the-homeless.html. ^
  13. “Biography.” Governor Mario Cuomo. Accessed September 17, 2021. https://www.governormariocuomo.com/biography. ^
  14. Halbfinger, David M.; Powell, Michael. “As HUD Chief, Cuomo Earns a Mixed Score.” New York Times. August 23, 2010. Accessed September 25, 2021. https://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/24/nyregion/24hud.html. ^
  15. Dreher, Rod. “Where the Son Doesn’t Follow.” National Review Online. September 4, 2002. Accessed September 25, 2021. https://web.archive.org/web/20020910104631/http://www.nationalreview.com/dreher/dreher090402.asp. ^
  16. Dreher, Rod. “Where the Son Doesn’t Follow.” National Review Online. September 4, 2002. Accessed September 25, 2021. https://web.archive.org/web/20020910104631/http://www.nationalreview.com/dreher/dreher090402.asp. ^
  17. Hicks, Jonathan P. “Cuomo Wins Democrats’ Backing in Primary Race for Attorney General.” New York Times. May 31, 2006. Accessed September 26, 2021. https://www.nytimes.com/2006/05/31/nyregion/31ag.html. ^
  18. Cowan, Alison Leigh. “Mixed Views on Cuomo as Attorney General.” New York Times. October 26, 2010. Accessed September 26, 2021. https://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/27/nyregion/27cuomo.html. ^
  19. Silverleib, Alan. “N.Y. governor names Clinton successor.” CNN politics. January 23, 2009. Accessed September 26, 2021. http://www.cnn.com/2009/POLITICS/01/23/gillibrand.profile/index.html. ^
  20. “Obama cordial but cool to Gov. David Paterson.” Newsday. September 21, 2009. Accessed September 26, 2021. https://www.newsday.com/news/region-state/obama-cordial-but-cool-to-gov-david-paterson-1.1465587. ^
  21. “Carl P. Paladino.” Ballotpedia. Accessed September 26, 2021. https://ballotpedia.org/Carl_P._Paladino. ^
  22. Klepper, David. “Cuomo’s drive to dominate led to success, and his downfall.” AP News. August 22, 2021. Accessed September 26, 2021. https://apnews.com/article/andrew-cuomo-legacy-downfall-b6b92a4ef8f97495675081dcc85990f2. ^
  23. Goldmacher, Shane; Rosenthal, Brian M.; Armendariz, Agustin. “In Spite of Executive Order, Cuomo Takes Campaign Money From State Appointees.” New York Times. February 24, 2018. Accessed September 26, 2021. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/24/nyregion/cuomo-fund-raising-ethics-appointees.html. ^
  24. Chung, Lori. “New York’s Marridge Equality Act marked a milestone for Cuomo’s political career.” August 17, 2021. Accessed September 26, 2021. https://www.ny1.com/nyc/all-boroughs/news/2021/08/17/new-york-s-marriage-equality-act-marked-a-milestone-for-cuomo-s-political-career. ^
  25. Lopez, German. “How New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo failed, then succeeded, on Covid-19.” Vox. September 2, 2020. Accessed September 26, 2021. https://www.vox.com/future-perfect/21401242/andrew-cuomo-coronavirus-covid-pandemic-new-york. ^
  26. Goodman, David J. “How Delays and Unheeded Warnings Hindered New York’s Virus Fight. April 8, 2020. Accessed September 26, 2021. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/08/nyregion/new-york-coronavirus-response-delays.html. ^
  27. Lopez, German. “How New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo failed, then succeeded, on Covid-19.” Vox. September 2, 2020. Accessed September 26, 2021. https://www.vox.com/future-perfect/21401242/andrew-cuomo-coronavirus-covid-pandemic-new-york. ^
  28. Lopez, German. “How New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo failed, then succeeded, on Covid-19.” Vox. September 2, 2020. Accessed September 26, 2021. https://www.vox.com/future-perfect/21401242/andrew-cuomo-coronavirus-covid-pandemic-new-york. ^
  29. [1] Lopez, German. “How New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo failed, then succeeded, on Covid-19.” Vox. September 2, 2020. Accessed September 26, 2021. https://www.vox.com/future-perfect/21401242/andrew-cuomo-coronavirus-covid-pandemic-new-york. ^
  30. Lopez, German. “How New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo failed, then succeeded, on Covid-19.” Vox. September 2, 2020. Accessed September 26, 2021. https://www.vox.com/future-perfect/21401242/andrew-cuomo-coronavirus-covid-pandemic-new-york. ^
  31. Goodman, David J.; Hakim, Danny. “Cuomo Aides Rewrote Nursing Home Report to Hide Higher Death Toll.” New York Times. March 4, 2021. Updated September 23, 2021. Accessed September 26, 2021. https://www.nytimes.com/2021/03/04/nyregion/cuomo-nursing-home-deaths.html. ^
  32. Skolnik, Jon. “New York’s new governor reveals 12,000 nursing home coronavirus deaths were hidden by Cuomo.” Salon. August 25, 2021. Accessed September 26, 2021. https://www.salon.com/2021/08/25/new-yorks-new-governor-reveals-12000-nursing-home-coronavirus-deaths-were-hidden-by-cuomo/. ^
  33. Skolnik, Jon. “New York’s new governor reveals 12,000 nursing home coronavirus deaths were hidden by Cuomo.” Salon. August 25, 2021. Accessed September 26, 2021. https://www.salon.com/2021/08/25/new-yorks-new-governor-reveals-12000-nursing-home-coronavirus-deaths-were-hidden-by-cuomo/. ^
  34. Sen, Mallika. “Cuomo resigns: What we know, what we don’t and what’s next.” AP News. August 13, 2021. Accessed September 26, 2021. https://apnews.com/article/cuomo-resignation-what-to-know-4b4c2762970620dfcb1e912692d376f1. ^
  35. Sen, Mallika. “Cuomo resigns: What we know, what we don’t and what’s next.” AP News. August 13, 2021. Accessed September 26, 2021. https://apnews.com/article/cuomo-resignation-what-to-know-4b4c2762970620dfcb1e912692d376f1. ^
  36. Palmeri, Tara; Bade, Rachel; Lizza, Ryan; Daniels, Euguene. “POLITICO Playbook: ‘The worst day of your presidency’.” Politico. August 27, 2021. Accessed September 26, 2021. https://www.politico.com/newsletters/playbook/2021/08/27/the-worst-day-of-your-presidency-494158. ^
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