New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) slammed a state-level lawmaker in New York, Democratic Assemblyman Ron Kim, after Kim claimed that Cuomo threatened to “destroy” him in a phone call that came in response to Kim publicly criticizing Cuomo’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“My office more than me, has had a long and hostile relationship with Assemblyman Ron Kim,” Cuomo said at a press conference on Wednesday. “It goes back to the issue on nail salons. We passed a bill that we worked very hard to protect nail salon workers who were often victimized by businesses … wage theft was prevalent. We passed a bill, Assemblyman Kim supported the bill, he then flipped 180 degrees because the nail salon business owners found the bill onerous. There was a big New York Times story on it at the time that said basically, and I don’t want to paraphrase a Times story, but it basically said he supported the bill, he signed the bill, he was at the bill signing, then the business people in his community got upset, and then he changed his position, actually used his lobbying firm to lobby on behalf of the business owners, continued to use that lobbying firm and that political operative as his own, and then raised money from those business owners and continues to, and I believe it was unethical if not illegal, and I believe it’s a continuing racket because he is still doing it.”
“The euphemism is pay to play, and I believe that, as I said, Mr. Kim acted unethically if not illegally on that matter, and my office is in that story, so it’s been a long-running situation, but as far as his point that we didn’t provide the Department of Justice with information, that is 100 percent wrong, he knows it,” Cuomo continued. “We paused the State Legislature’s request for information, which I’ve now said 15 times, so we could comply with the Department of Justice information, and the Assembly and Senate knew we paused the State legislative, and there is no obstruction of justice in not providing the State Legislature with information, and they knew about it, so that is 100 percent wrong.”
“As far as the suggestion that the immunity bill for hospitals and nursing homes was passed because of campaign contributions, which is the allegation against Mr. Kim … that bill was passed in the budget by the Assembly and the Senate, so if he wants to accuse his Assembly colleagues and Senate colleagues of the same conduct he’s been accused of, pay to play, that’s what he’s doing,” Cuomo continued.
“Also with Mr. Kim, he has a meeting last week with [other] legislators and members of my staff. On the tape at the meeting, he says positive things. There’s then a story that moves in the New York Post where he says the exact opposite and is very negative in quotes,” Cuomo continued. “I called him up and I said, ‘I don’t understand, you were positive — you said positive things in the meeting — and then the Post has you saying negative things.’ He told me, ‘the Post has misquoted me and I called the Post reporter and she refused to correct it.’ I said, ‘really?’ ‘Yes, she refuses to correct it.’ I said, ‘Well, my suggestion is, you then do a statement where you put out your correct statement because, you know, if the reporter doesn’t want to include it — fine. Then do a statement that corrects it.’ ‘Yes, I will do that,’ he says, and then he never did it.”
“So much for Mr. Kim’s credibility, and I said to him on the phone, ‘You know, there is still integrity and honor and decency in politics,’ but that’s that for Mr. Kim,” Cuomo concluded.
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