Concern grows that vaccine rollout could be tied to support of Gov. Cuomo
There are concerns from some county leaders that the vaccine rollout could be tied to their support of Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
Cuomo's office vehemently denies those allegations. Republican state senators want the feds to step in and distribute the COVID-19 vaccine in New York.
News 12's Eric Feldman spent the day reaching out to leaders across the state. He did not find a Democratic county leader - neither a county executive nor a chair of a county board - to say to News 12 that they felt any phone call from Larry Schwartz made them feel that loyalty to the governor could be tied to vaccine rollout.
Schwartz, who used to be a Westchester deputy county executive, is part of the Cuomo administration's team responsible for the distribution of COVID-19 vaccine.
Republican Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro, who is also the president of the New York County Executives Association, says he heard from several Democratic leaders about these phone calls made last week.
Some told him they were disturbed by it, he says.
News 12 has heard from county executives in Nassau, Suffolk, Erie, Albany and Westchester, and none said they felt there was any sort of quid pro quo.
Molinaro says he's alarmed by what he's been told.
"If you're the individual with broad control over vaccine distribution, choosing where vaccine sites get established. How many doses get reallocated to different locations? You shouldn't be the one making political phone calls," he says.
The Cuomo administration sent a statement saying, "Vaccine distribution in New York is based on objective criteria to ensure it matches eligible populations, ensure equity and ability to rapidly administer shots in arms. To be clear -- Larry's conversations did not bring up vaccine distribution --he would never link political support to public health decisions."
It goes on to say any suggestion Schwartz acted unethically is "patently false."