Gov. Cuomo under fire from some in NYC as top aide Melissa DeRosa speaks out

ByEyewitness News via WABC logo
Friday, March 26, 2021
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Black community leaders gathered outside the governor's office in Lower Manhattan to voice their opposition both to his budget proposal and his behavior.

LOWER MANHATTAN (WABC) -- Black community leaders gathered outside Governor Andrew Cuomo's office in Lower Manhattan Friday to voice their opposition both to his budget proposal and his behavior.

New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams called Cuomo a master manipulator, saying he listens to money more than people.

And Stanley Fritz, of Citizen Action of New York, slammed the governor's handling of the pandemic.

The governor's list of friends seems shorter by the day, but one person who is still on his side is speaking out.

Cuomo's top aide, Secretary to the Governor Melissa DeRosa, defended herself in an interview with Bloomberg.

RELATED: Gov. Cuomo prioritized family members and associates for COVID testing: Reports

DeRosa has been accused of removing numbers from a health department report on the number of nursing home deaths last year.

She defended her actions during the pandemic, telling Bloomberg, "I'm a human being."

"The last thing I would do in my day is call family members of health-care workers who died and tell them I'm sorry for their pain, and then close the door, lay on the floor and cry," she said. "I am not the one-dimensional person that has been portrayed in the press."

DeRosa also defended the governor last month, saying during the many claims of sexual harassment against him saying "we've seen women rise to the highest levels" during his time in office.

But one accuser, Charlotte Bennett, also says DeRosa was a witness to the governor's inappropriate behavior last spring.

RELATED | NY Gov. Cuomo touts achievements amid calls to resign over scandals

That's when, Bennett says, the governor made her perform "Danny Boy" in front of DeRosa and another aide.

Bennett told investigators that she believed DeRosa saw how humiliated Bennett was, but dismissed the episode as "hazing" and continued to watch "with a mix of horror and amusement."

This is on top of the latest allegations of Cuomo family members and friends getting COVID tests last spring when they were hard to come by.

The list of those receiving tests is now said to include Dr. George Yancopoulos, president of the pharmaceutical company Regeneron, whose family got the hard to come by test last march.

The State Assembly investigation into the claims of sexual harassment could now expand.

RELATED | NY State Assembly officially launches impeachment inquiry into Cuomo's sex harassment allegations

"I don't mean to suggest that the allegations involving preferential treatment will not be examined and considered, but the main focus involves the three issues with which we have been charged," said Judiciary Committee Chair Charles Lavine.

"It's pretty clear under the law you're not supposed to use your public role or public resources to benefit yourself personally or others personally," said Blair Horner, legislative director of NYPIRG. "And in other cases, that's where people run into trouble."

State Attorney General Letitia James says her office's investigation will only focus on the sexual harassment claims, but says others should look into the preferential testing.

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