Cuomo successor Kathy Hochul vows to 'fully cooperate' with COVID nursing home probe

Harsh media sendoff for Cuomo

Once-adoring press pans resignation speech

Incoming New York governor Kathy Hochul on Sunday vowed to “fully cooperate” with requests for data on the nursing home scandal facing Andrew Cuomo’s administration – though she stressed other priorities included getting COVID relief money out to landlords and illegal immigrants. 

“I’m not going to raise expectations that I have those documents in my hand on day one,” Hochul, the lieutenant governor set to replace Gov. Andrew Cuomo next week, said in an appearance on CBS’ “Face the Nation.” “What I have done already is met with the commissioner of health and we will be talking about what outstanding requests for data are in the realm. I will look at those and have my team focus on that early on.” 

“I have to tell ya, on Day 1, I am focused on COVID,” Hochul, a Democrat, continued. “We have to deal with the fact that the rates are rising. I want to get money out to people. We have way too much money sitting there that should be going to renters, the landlords who are suffering. And I also want to get the money out for the excluded worker program where people who are immigrants aren’t getting any money because they aren’t documented and that money is sitting there unspent.” 

“So I have a lot of priorities, but I will absolutely make sure that my administration fully cooperates with these requests for data,” she said.

Cuomo announced last week that he will resign on Aug. 24, giving himself a two-week transition period following a scathing report from New York Attorney Letitia James that concluded he had sexually harassed multiple women. Hochul, a Democrat, will replace him on that date. 

She has said she intends to run for reelection in her own right next year. 

The Cuomo administration severely undercounted nursing home deaths after the governor ordered long-term care facilities to accept positive coronavirus patients in the early stages of the pandemic. Cuomo officials also reportedly altered a report on nursing home deaths to obscure the fact that the administration was undercounting such deaths. 

The governor has also faced scrutiny for granting immunity to nursing home executives from coronavirus-related lawsuits. The immunity for the nursing home execs followed a large donation to Cuomo’s campaign from a high-powered health care industry group. Cuomo has repeatedly denied wrongdoing in the nursing home saga.

Meanwhile, New York State Assemblyman Ron Kim has called for Hochul to release email records in order to prove that she was not aware of Cuomo’s alleged sexual misconduct. 

“It’s hard to prove a negative because I’ve had no communication along those lines. But I believe in transparency and we’ll evaluate all of those requests,” Hochul said Sunday. “But it is no secret that the governor and I were not close. But I did support the legacy of progressive accomplishments which are outstanding, and my role as lieutenant governor is not to be in those rooms or spend much time in the capital – but to really be out speaking to New Yorkers and championing issues like childcare, paid family leave and higher wages. And I’m going to continue doing that.” 

Hochul said she knows Cuomo’s accusers “feel welcome to stay in the administration if they are here.” 

“I want them to know the culture will be changed 1,000%,” she said. “I want every young woman, just like I was a high school assembly intern, to realize that this is a place where they have a role. We need their voices, we need that diversity. We’re getting there. We’re making progress on more elected women, but I want by the end of my administration for every woman to say there are no barriers.” 

Fox News’ Andrew Mark Miller contributed to this report. 

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