By Dr. Leon Koziol
Former government attorney, corruption whistleblower and current civil rights advocate
Andrew Cuomo faces a growing level of scandals surrounding his three term stint as governor of New York. Most public are the sexual harassment victims emboldened by herd immunity who continue to come out of the woodwork. However it is not simply the number of complaints but their diversity in content that should concern the public while federal and state authorities investigate.
There are many distinct aspects that can be counted. They include sexual harassment, false reporting of nursing home deaths, immunity from health care liability, and favoritism secretly accorded to family, supporters and elite society in coronavirus testing. Coupled with quid-pro-quo implications, an untethered ego, and First Amendment defiance, this governor has evinced a character more familiar to the monarchs which New York colonials ousted during our Revolutionary War.
Fear of retribution among whistleblowers is common to these scandals as it was for patriots who exposed corruption by tyrants. Intentionally or not, Governor Cuomo has assumed a tyrannical role after losing all sight of our founding principles. He did so by seizing upon a pandemic to foster an elite class of constituents, something his father might compare to the tale of two cities. Placing himself above the law, he set a dangerous precedent which entices his underclass to take that law into their own hands.
Such an underclass will inevitably revolt but not necessarily through violence. It can be carried out with a disregard of obligations, exploitation of government benefits, or flight to more democratic states and countries. All this, of course, harms New York’s capacity to provide economic recovery and essential services. Simply put, the people have become fed up with impotent investigations, politically constituted commissions, and watchdog inventions that act as mere window dressing for government accountability.
Governor Cuomo’s version of accountability features due process as a pretext for ending these scandals when public attention predictably fades. In addition, buying time means an opportunity to influence outcomes, an agenda already underway as evidenced by vaccine agents who recently made peculiar contact with county officials. This raises the specter of more scandals and a strategy employed time and again by this governor.
A key example is Governor Cuomo’s Moreland Commission on Public Corruption in 2013. He assembled a dream team of lawyers, experts and law enforcement to crack down on a “culture of corruption in Albany.” As one of the small number selected to speak, I traveled to Pace University to expose corruption in our state’s domestic relations courts. Instead of overdue reforms, this commission was prematurely dissolved when testimony began implicating officials close to the governor. For my good faith efforts, I was rewarded with human rights violations, a loss of livelihood, and an end to father-daughter relations.
Such retaliation for the exercise of constitutional rights forces victims to go underground, to lose faith in their government, and ultimately to exhibit violent protest. It is a slippery slope that has become all too common this past year. In short, the King Cuomo scandals do not warrant individual prosecutions deserving of due process so much as they do a humble response to a serious loss of public faith in governance. For the good of the people, therefore, this governor should heed the calls for his resignation.
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