NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) –There are reports the FBI and the U.S. Attorney are investigating Gov. Andrew Cuomo‘s coronavirus task force as the governor is under fire for under-reporting nursing home COVID deaths.
It’s not clear right now the extent of the inquiry, but it appears the governor’s office is now feeling the heat from different sides, including from the Legislature.
Charges of systematic racism in the handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, including vaccine distribution and nursing homes, have prompted calls for a federal civil rights probe of city and state actions.
As CBS2’s Marcia Kramer reported Wednesday, Cuomo was singled out for harsh criticism.
City and state officials have gone to great lengths to showcase efforts to get members of the minority community vaccinations, even though new statistics show the hardest-hit neighborhoods have the fewest number of vaccinations.
And that’s just one of the reasons key elected officials are demanding a federal civil rights investigation about how New York has handled the pandemic.
“From infection to injection, I believe the governor has failed in almost all the decisions that were made,” Public Advocate Jumaane Williams said.
Williams was joined by members of the City Council Black, Latino and Asian Caucus in seeking a federal probe on grounds of systematic racism.
“We are demanding immediate attention to the situation. We have watched our community members die,” Councilwoman Adrienne Adams said.
The governor was also singled out for withholding information on nursing home deaths.
Officials want Cuomo’s nursing home decisions investigated. He said there is no reason for a probe, adding only at the lack of information on nursing home deaths created pain for those who lost loved ones.
Watch Marcia Kramer’s report —
“My administration created the void and that I feel bad about it. Not illegal, not unethical, but just failed people in that moment,” Cuomo said.
The governor’s office said in a statement Wednesday night, “As we publicly said, DOJ has been looking into this for months. We have been cooperating with them and we will continue to.”
The governor said repeatedly that there is a need for vaccine fairness. He announced 13 new community-based vaccine pop-up sites and four new Federal Emergency Management Agency sites, like the one at the National Guard Armory in Yonkers.
The governor also harshly attacked one of his most persistent critics, Assemblyman Ron Kim, whose uncle died of COVID in a nursing home. Cuomo attacked Kim’s ethics, charging the lawmaker took political donations from nail salons while working on legislation that was supposed to crack down on salon abuses.
“I do believe Ron Kim acted unethically, if not illegally. I do believe he has a continuing racket where he raises money from the owners of salons,” Cuomo said.
“The governor can smear me all he wants in an effort to distract us from his fatally incompetent management. But these facts are not going away,” Kim responded.
Assemblyman Kim has introduced legislation to cancel Gov. Cuomo’s executive powers.
“After 10 months, I lost faith and trust in his ability to do the job, so we want to just repeal that extra powers, say you can’t unilaterally pass laws and mandates,” Kim told CBS2’s Dick Brennan.
Kim went on to call the governor’s accusations “a complete distraction.”
“Why isn’t he talking about the problems, the policies that he put in that led to unnecessary deaths? What does nail salons have to do with nursing homes?” he said.
CBS2’s Dick Brennan contributed to this report.