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The rise and fall of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo

Summary List PlacementAndrew Cuomo was just 24 years old when he managed his father's winning campaign for governor of New York in 1982. He served as an adviser to Gov. Mario Cuomo on a $1 salary.  He went on to become a partner in a Manhattan law firm that represented powerful builders, including Donald Trump, according to The Washington Post.  In 1988, he gave up law to run a housing nonprofit called HELP – Housing Enterprise for the Less Privileged. Two years later, he married Robert F. Kennedy's daughter Kerry Kennedy. The press nicknamed them 'Cuomolot.' The couple were known as a DC...

Summary List Placement

Andrew Cuomo was just 24 years old when he managed his father’s winning campaign for governor of New York in 1982. He served as an adviser to Gov. Mario Cuomo on a $1 salary. 

Andrew Cuomo

He went on to become a partner in a Manhattan law firm that represented powerful builders, including Donald Trump, according to The Washington Post.  In 1988, he gave up law to run a housing nonprofit called HELP – Housing Enterprise for the Less Privileged.

Andrew Cuomo

Two years later, he married Robert F. Kennedy’s daughter Kerry Kennedy. The press nicknamed them ‘Cuomolot.’

Andrew Cuomo marries Kerry Kennedy in 1990

The couple were known as a DC power couple while Cuomo worked as an assistant secretary in the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s community planning and development office.

Andrew Cuomo and Kerry Kennedy in 1994.

President Bill Clinton nominated Cuomo as secretary of HUD in 1996. He was unanimously approved by a Republican-controlled Senate.

Andrew Cuomo's confirmation hearing.

As HUD secretary, Cuomo led programs that pumped billions into depressed cities, but his critics said it was all just to “enhance his own public image and political career,” The Post reported at the time.

Former US Housing and Urban Development Secretary (HUD) Andrew Cuomo

In 2002, Cuomo ran for governor of New York, following in his father’s footsteps. But his campaign floundered after he said that Gov. George Pataki had “stood behind the leader” — referring to New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani — in the aftermath of 9/11, a time of national mourning. 

Andrew Cuomo in the 2002 race

“I talked to a reporter who was there, and he said there was a kind of a collective intake of breath. Like, ‘Wow, did he just say that?’ It was so nasty,” said Michael Shnayerson, author of Cuomo’s unauthorized biography.

Andrew Cuomo next to Bill Clinton

Cuomo dropped out of the race before the Democratic primary. Four years later, in 2006, he was elected New York’s attorney general, and four years later he took a second shot at the governor’s mansion.

He was elected governor with more than 60% of the votes, and then again for a second and third term.

Democratic candidate for state Attorney General Andrew Cuomo

But it was this third term that would both make and break Cuomo.

On March 1, 2020, New York had its first confirmed case of coronavirus. Every day, for over 100 days, Cuomo would reassure New Yorkers in daily briefings that it would be all right. 

Cuomo acts to protect nursing home residents

By the end of March, there were more than 60,000 cases in New York, and hospitals were filling up. Cuomo issued a mandate asking nursing homes to take back residents who had been hospitalized, as well as new patients, even if they had COVID. 

nursing homes new york

But what seemed to be getting more attention was the governor himself. His approval rating rose to 77% in April of 2020 – his highest in almost 10 years, according to a poll conducted by Siena College

andrew and chris cuomo cnn

He appeared on the cover of Rolling Stone in May, won an Emmy for his press briefings, published a memoir of his handling of the pandemic in October, and reportedly was even being considered as President-elect Biden’s attorney general. 

Joe Biden and Andrew Cuomo

But a disaster was unfolding in New York nursing homes. More than 4,500 recovering COVID patients were admitted by the time Cuomo rescinded his order on May 10, 2020, the Associated Press reported. Families of the victims were furious.

new york ambulance

“He had the time to write a book. He had time to go on national TV on a daily basis,” said Maria Porteus, whose father, Carlos Gallegos, died of suspected COVID at a nursing home 15 days after the mandate was put in place. “What he left behind is a nightmare for families.”

Sign at Voices for Senior vigil

Cuomo insisted his administration was following CDC guidelines. But contrary to federal guidelines, New York’s order did not require nursing homes to adopt strict COVID health procedures or make a separate wing for patients coming from hospitals. 

A man holds signs at Voices for Senior vigil

By the end of May, more than 5,800 people had died either with confirmed or suspected coronavirus in New York nursing homes or adult care facilities, according to the Associated Press.

A patient is wheeled into the trauma center at the Elmhurst Hospital Center where testing and treatment for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is taking place in Queens, New York City, U.S., March 27, 2020. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly

In July 2020, the New York Health Department said in a report that admitting COVID patients was not a significant factor in nursing home deaths. The report stated that transmission from nursing-home staff members was the primary driver, not Cuomo’s March 25 directive.

Andrew Cuomo

But months later, in January 2021, New York Attorney General Letitia James found that Cuomo’s order may indeed have contributed to outbreaks in nursing homes.

She also said New York’s Department of Health undercounted nursing home deaths by as much as 50%. 

letitia james

The Wall Street Journal reported in March that Cuomo’s top aides pressured health officials to change the report and list about 6,400 deaths. But the initial version of the report said there were nearly 10,000 deaths. 

cuomo derosa calls

In April 2021, Cuomo’s favorability rating dipped down to 40%, according to a Siena College Poll. 

cuomo calls for resignation

But there was another scandal emerging. One of Cuomo’s former aides — Lindsey Boylan — tweeted in December 2020 that he had sexually harassed her for years.  

GettyImages NEW YORK, NEW YORK - JUNE 17: Lindsey Boylan attends The 9th Annual Elly Awards Hosted By The Women's Forum Of New York on June 17, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images for Women's Forum of New York)

More women came forward with accusations in the following months. The governor did not respond to Insider’s request for comment. In the past, he has denied all of the accusations against him. 

cuomo governor mansion albany

Meanwhile, the FBI is now investigating if Cuomo’s office gave false data to the Justice Department. 

andrew cuomo book investigation

And James, the state attorney general, is investigating the misconduct allegations. She’s also looking into allegations that Cuomo used state resources to write his memoir, the New York Times reported.

cuomo james 4x3

With an impeachment investigation underway, members of Cuomo’s own party have called for his resignation. However, Cuomo remains in office, and continues to have eyes on a fourth term.

cuomo resign billboard

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