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The Legislator Facing Cuomo’s Wrath

A Q&A with Ron Kim, the Democratic lawmaker facing threats of retribution for spotlighting the New York governor’s move to shield nursing home execs from consequences.
The Legislator Facing Cuomo’s Wrath

EDITOR’S NOTE: This Daily Poster report is being co-published with Newsweek.

Photo credit: Erik McGregor/Getty Images

This report was written by David Sirota and Julia Rock.

As COVID was breaking out in New York state last March, Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed an infamous executive order requiring nursing homes to accept patients who were presumed to have the virus. Following the order, about 9,000 COVID patients were brought into nursing homes across the state, likely leading to the virus’s rampant spread in those facilities.

But instead of correcting for his mistake, Gov. Cuomo listened to the demands of one of his top donors — the lobbying group for the nursing home industry. As The Daily Poster reported back in May, he granted full corporate legal immunity to nursing homes, all the way up to the c-suite. At the time, New York Democratic Assemblyman Ron Kim sounded an alarm, warning that the liability protections removed a key deterrent to corporate misbehavior and effectively shielded nursing home executives from legal consequences if their cost-cutting, profit-maximizing decisions endangered lives.

Now the situation has exploded into a full-scale scandal: Last week, Cuomo’s administration was caught on tape admitting it was withholding data about how many nursing home residents had been infected with COVID, and how many had died.

When Kim told The New York Post that it appeared that Cuomo was “trying to dodge having any incriminating evidence,” the governor reportedly lashed out at Kim both publicly and privately, including an alleged late-night phone call in which Cuomo threatened to “destroy” Kim. (A senior Cuomo advisor subsequently released a statement denying those threats and questioning Kim’s credibility.)

With federal law enforcement officials reportedly launching a probe into the Cuomo administration’s handling of nursing home deaths, the controversy is expected to take center stage during this coming week’s confirmation hearings for Attorney General nominee Merrick Garland.

For his part, threats of potential retribution haven’t convinced Kim to back down from holding Cuomo accountable. On Friday, he called the governor an “abuser” on ABC’s The View. Now, in a new interview, Kim explained what was really going on in New York’s nursing homes this spring, and how Cuomo’s corporate immunity order gave nursing home executives the power to cut corners and save money at the expense of their residents’ lives.

Click here to read The Daily Poster’s full discussion with Kim at Newsweek.


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