Report: Cuomo vaccine leader calls Democratic county executives gauging their support of the governor

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FILE – In this March 3, 2010 file photo, Larry Schwartz listens to a news conference at the Capitol in Albany, N.Y. Schwartz, a longtime adviser to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo leading the state’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout has been calling county executives to gauge their loyalty to the Democratic governor amid a sexual harassment investigation, according to reports in The Washington Post and The New York Times. (AP Photo/Mike Groll)

ALBANY, N.Y. (WIVB) — New reporting by the New York Times alleges Larry Schwartz, the man tasked with leading New York’s vaccine distribution, had called Democratic county executives asking about their support of Governor Cuomo.

The Times report cites two unnamed county executives that had received calls from Schwartz in which he asked about their loyalty to the governor, then shifting the conversation to a discussion about vaccine allotment for their respective county.

“In one case, a county executive, who spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of retaliation, said that after Mr. Schwartz had discussed the governor’s political situation, he then pivoted directly to a conversation about vaccine distribution.

In another example, a second county executive said Mr. Schwartz called immediately after a different Cuomo administration official had called about vaccine distribution in the county.”

The New York Times

Governor Cuomo is currently under fire as allegations of inappropriate behavior, sexual harassment, and criticism of this handling of nursing home death data mounts. An independent probe into the governor’s actions is currently being handled by New York’s attorney general. Meanwhile, an impeachment inquiry has begun in the state Assembly as top lawmakers call for his resignation.

The second county executive that allegedly received a call from Schwartz immediately after getting off the phone with a Cuomo aide speaking about vaccine allotment for the county has “preliminary complaint on Friday with the state attorney general office’s public integrity bureau,” according to the NYT.

Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz’s office tells News 4 the executive had not been part of the alleged phone calls place by Schwartz. However, Poloncarz had spoken to Schwartz in the past about vaccine-related matters.

“I can confirm that the County Executive has not been a part of such calls. He has spoken to Mr. Schwartz about vaccine-related issues and that’s all. Mr. Schwartz knows that the County Executive has already called for an investigation into the allegations against the Governor. I spoke to both WaPo and the NYT about this late last week and told them the same. Thank you.”

Peter Anderson, Press Secretary to Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz

Beth Garvey, Acting Counsel to Governor Cuomo tells News 4 the accusations reported by the NYT is false.

“Larry answered our call to volunteer in March and has since then worked night and day to ‎help New York through this pandemic, first managing surge capacity, and procuring necessary supplies for the state, setting up the contact tracing efforts, and now assisting with vaccine distribution. Any suggestion that he acted in any way unethically or in any way other than in the best interest of the New Yorkers that he selflessly served is patently false.”

Beth Garvey, Acting Counsel to the Governor

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