New York State Assemblyman Ron Kim (D-NY40) reported that he had been on the receiving end of threats issued from Governor Andrew Cuomo.
"Gov. Cuomo called me directly on Thursday to threaten my career if I did not cover up for Melissa [DeRosa] and what she said," Kim said, according to The New York Times. "He tried to pressure me to issue a statement, and it was a very traumatizing experience."
He said that Cuomo told him that "we're in this business together and we don't cross certain lines and he said I hadn't seen his wrath and that he can destroy me."
Melissa DeRosa is a top Cuomo aide who reported that the cover-up of the number of nursing home deaths in the state was intentional, in order for the Cuomo administration to avoid political fallout.
Cuomo has blamed everyone he could for the nursing home deaths and the ensuing cover-up. Cuomo blamed, primarily, the "void," saying that the "void begets disinformation," and that disinformation results in pain of individuals.
The beleaguered governor has been doing what he can to face down the nursing home debacle in his state. After Attorney General Letitia James released the findings of an investigation conducted by her office which showed that the state underreported deaths in nursing homes by as much as 50 percent, Cuomo has been fending off attacks from left, right, and everything in between.
Kim, who represents the Flushing neighborhood in the borough of Queens, New York City, has been outspoken about the nursing home failures in the state. He believes additionally that his uncle died from COVID in a nursing home unnecessarily.
Kim said that "No man has ever spoken to me like that in my entire life... At some point he tried to humiliate me, asking: 'Are you a lawyer? I didn't think so. You're not a lawyer.' It almost felt like in retrospect he was trying to bait me and anger me and say something inappropriate. I'm glad I didn't."
Kim said that Cuomo continued to try to reach him through the weekend. Cuomo senior adviser Rich Azzopardi issued a statement on Wednesday that read: "Kim's assertion that the governor said he would 'destroy him' is false... The Governor has three witnesses to the conversation. The operable words were to the effect of, 'I am from Queens, too, and people still expect honor and integrity in politics.'"
Kim stands by his assertion that he was threatened by the governor.