A longtime lieutenant to Gov. Cuomo — who is now overseeing New York’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout — called around county officials to gauge their loyalty to the governor amid sexual harassment and misconduct allegations, it emerged Sunday.
Larry Schwartz, who formerly held the highly influential position of secretary to the governor, undertook the phone campaign in the past two weeks as more than a half-dozen women have come forward to accuse Cuomo of inappropriate remarks or behavior.
“Last Friday, I had a conversation with Larry Schwartz who reached out to discuss whether I was supportive of the governor,” Democratic Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone told The Post.
“I explained that there were serious allegations made and that I was supportive of an independent investigation.”
Bellone said that the topic of vaccine distribution did not come up during the call — but at least one Democratic official voiced concerns that their county’s access to the vaccines might hinge on their response to Schwartz.
“At best, it was inappropriate,” that executive told The Washington Post of the call, speaking on condition of anonymity. “At worst, it was clearly over the ethical line.”
That official on Friday alerted the public integrity unit of the state attorney general’s office that they intended to file an ethics complaint over the call.
Schwartz, who is also a Cuomo-appointed MTA board member, urged the executive to reserve judgment on the allegations until the conclusion of a probe by the attorney general’s office, and asked them to keep him apprised of their thoughts on the matter, the official said.
Schwartz stressed that no one refused to take his calls, or indicated to him that they were uncomfortable.
“Everyone took my call or called me back,” he added. “NOBODY indicated they were uncomfortable discussing with me or thought it was inappropriate.”