YONKERS - Gov. Andrew Cuomo is looking for someone new to head the Department of Health just one day after gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino called for New York Health Commissioner Nirav Shah to resign.
Officials in Cuomo's administration say Shah's departure has nothing to do with Astorino, adding that his resignation had been in the works for weeks. Shah became a lightning rod for critics over his drawn out review of whether the state should move forward with hydraulic fracking, a controversial method of drilling for natural gas that Astorino supports.
The Republican hopeful also called for Shah to be ousted over recent reports that his agency is failing to inspect abortion clinics. A Department of Health spokesperson says all allegations are being investigated and that facilities will be re-inspected in the coming days.
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Pro-choice groups are pouncing on Astorino, who is pro-life, saying that he can't go on record with a vehement right-wing stance against abortion and then try to blur his "extremist position" as he gears up for a gubernatorial run. Astorino says he's not playing politics in this situation.
Shah's resignation takes effect at the end of June, when he will take an executive position with the Kaiser Foundation Health Plan in California.