In the waning days of his administration, disgraced Gov. Andrew Cuomo and his staff are focused on trying to salvage what they can of his tarnished reputation instead of dealing with pressing state issues like the botched $2.6 billion rent relief program, say well-placed critics who believe he should have resigned immediately.
Exiting administration officials are “worrying about his freakin’ political future,” state Sen. Gustavo Rivera (D-Bronx) fumed to The Post Thursday.
“They’re not worried about making sure this program — almost $3 billion, most of it hasn’t gone out the door, only $156 million has gone out — works,” Rivera said outside a state Senate hearing in Brooklyn on the Emergency Rental Assistance Program.
Rivera added that he “doesn’t trust” Cuomo’s motives for sticking around two weeks after announcing his resignation.
“This is not a job at the Gap my dude. You should have just said, ‘I resign’ and the next day he’s gone … I don’t trust him or the people around him,” Rivera said.
State Sen. Julia Salazar (D-Brooklyn) also said Cuomo should have stepped aside after an Aug. 3 announcement by NY Attorney General Letitia James, whose months-long investigation found he violated state and federal laws by sexually harassing 11 women.
“I think it’s unacceptable, his resignation should have been effective immediately,” Salazar said.
“I think it’s a disservice to the state that … he still hasn’t actually handed in his resignation letter,” she added.
Cuomo loyalists who’ve stuck with him throughout his multiple scandals, including the serial sexual harassment probe and allegations that he covered up nursing home deaths during the coronavirus pandemic while using staff to help write a self-serving book that netted him millions, have been busy tweeting about his past accomplishments in recent days.
Right-hand woman, secretary to the governor Melissa DeRosa, has shared favorable stories on Twitter about her boss including a NY1 piece applauding his legalization of same-sex marriage in 2011 — even though friends of the governor’s ex-girlfriend Sandra Lee say she pushed him to support the law.
And senior advisor Rich Azzopardi tweeted another NY1 article headlined, “A prolific builder, Cuomo’s infrastructure legacy will be felt for rest of century, expert says.”
Meanwhile, the state’s federally funded program to rescue renters struggling from the COVID-19 pandemic has helped just 7,000 families, a blistering audit by state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli revealed Monday.
Michael Hein, the state commissioner in charge of overseeing the funds, testified that he’s never spoken to the governor about the program.
Cuomo is expected to leave office on Aug. 24 when Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul will take over.
Hein told senators Thursday that he’s had “extensive conversations” with Hochul about the rent relief program.
“She is very engaged across making sure we have all the resources to make it work,” Hein said.
Rivera, for one, is looking forward to the changing of the guard in Albany.
“I know we will disagree on certain things, she seems more moderate than I am,” Rivera said.
“But I actually respect her and think she is not a sociopath –which is kind of a low bar. She is someone who cares about governance and actually somebody I’ll be able to speak to. Somebody who will be focused on how the government functions,” he said.
A rep for Cuomo did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
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