While long overdue, this week the Worst Governor in America—Andrew Cuomo—left the New York Governor's office in disgrace. Sadly, this was just the first step toward cleaning up Cuomo's horrific legacy of corrupt leadership and failed policies that hurt everyday New Yorkers.
Cuomo's office was known for its systemic toxic culture of corruption, political vengeance, and illegal retaliation, which for years was brushed under the rug by Albany Democrats and the mainstream media.
We are far from the end of the most shameful chapter in New York's history—we are at the beginning, and New Yorkers deserve a fresh start.
Governor Kathy Hochul, who dutifully served as "King Cuomo's" Lieutenant Governor for years, has a critical—albeit short—window of opportunity to change course to rebuild trust and cull the culture of the corrupt cesspool of New York State politics.
Here's what Governor Hochul should do right now:
Release all nursing home and COVID pandemic-related data immediately.
Tens of thousands of New York families lost vulnerable loved ones in our state's nursing homes due to the fatal policies of former Governor Cuomo. These families have advocated for more than a year for transparency, accountability, and justice. In response, they faced smears from former Governor Cuomo's taxpayer-funded staff.
On a recent conference call with the New York State Congressional Delegation, I was the only Member of Congress to ask Governor Hochul about releasing this data in order to provide transparency and to ensure we enact policy changes to protect our elderly in future public health crises. Hochul committed to transparency saying "My Administration will be transparent with respect to documents pertaining to nursing homes and anything related to the pandemic."
We need to hold her to this pledge.
Clean house of Cuomo appointees starting with Dr. Howard Zucker.
Personnel is policy. Former Governor Cuomo built one of the most corrupt and vengeful Administration's in New York's history. This toxic culture permeated the Executive Chamber and instilled a sense of untouchable hubris among his staff who were supposed to act as public servants, but instead acted as the Governor's bullying enforcers.
Governor Hochul promised to clean house, but curiously backtracked when she announced that many of these corrupt Cuomo appointees would stay on staff for 45 days. They need to be fired now.
Dr. Zucker was one of the chief architects of the fatal nursing home policies and is deeply embroiled in the illegal criminal coverup of that data from the federal government and the public. He needs to go immediately so we can rebuild trust in New York State's Department of Health.
Advocate for equal justice under the law.
No one is above the law whether you are the Governor of New York State or an everyday New Yorker. The New York Attorney General's report found multiple instances where federal and state crimes were committed by former Governor Cuomo and his staff. These crimes should not be brushed under the rug; they should be prosecuted.
Cuomo's decision to resign should not shield him or his criminal staff from facing legal consequences. Unfortunately, Governor Hochul already got rolled by Albany Democrats who decided to drop their impeachment investigation into Cuomo.
Governor Hochul has also not ruled out a pardon for Cuomo or his staff. She needs to change course and support impeachment proceedings as well as rule out any consideration of pardons.
Zero tolerance for Pay to Play.
Whether it was the infamous crimes of Cuomo's "like a brother" Joe Percoco or the former Secretary to the Governor's unethical lobbying contacts, Cuomo significantly worsened the ethics culture in New York State. Since Governor Hochul's swearing in, the public was made aware of numerous conflicts of interest of Hochul family members who lobby New York State.
Hochul must demonstrate zero tolerance for these types of potentially shady, unethical relations. There should be specific public ethics rules in place immediately rather than broad commitments to "recuse" with no teeth. She must also totally overhaul JCOPE so that it is no longer considered a joke and an arm of the Governor's political toolkit, but a functional and transparent ethics entity.
These steps are important first acts that Governor Hochul must consider in her first week in office. Otherwise she is just rearranging the deck chairs in a criminally corrupt Executive Chamber.
I was proud to be one of the most committed anti-Cuomo voices in the state and nation, despite facing vitriol and condescension from the former Cuomo-adoring press corps and obsessive harassment from his top taxpayer funded sycophant aides.
I was the first federal official to call for his resignation and will continue to stand up for New Yorkers. That means fighting to ensure Governor Kathy Hochul gives us a fresh start.