Impeachment probe to examine COVID tests for Cuomo relatives

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New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo exits following a news conference at his offices, Wednesday, March 24, 2021, in New York. (Brendan McDermid/Pool Photo via AP)

ALBANY, N.Y. – The impeachment investigation into New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is expanding to examine whether the governor unlawfully used his office to provide his family members with special access to scarce coronavirus tests a year ago, a state lawmaker said Thursday.

The office of Attorney General Letitia James, Cuomo's fellow Democrat, issued a statement earlier Thursday urging New York’s Joint Commission on Public Ethics to investigate the alleged preferential testing after reports were published in the Times Union of Albany, The New York Times and The Washington Post.

“The recent reports alleging there was preferential treatment given for COVID-19 testing are troubling,” the statement read. “While we do not have jurisdiction to investigate this matter, it’s imperative that JCOPE look into it immediately.”

A spokesperson for the ethics commission, Walt McClure, said the commission could not comment "on anything that is or might be an investigative matter.”

The impeachment investigation's primary focus remains on allegations of sexual harassment against Cuomo, as well as reports that his administration intentionally underreported virus deaths at nursing homes and glazed over bridge safety concerns, but the alleged preferential testing will be explored, Assembly Judiciary Committee Chair Chuck Lavine told The Associated Press on Thursday.

Members of Cuomo’s family including his brother, CNN journalist Chris Cuomo; his mother; and at least one of his three sisters were tested by top health department officials, some of them several times, according to the Times Union of Albany.

The testing of people closely tied to the governor was carried out by high-ranking state health officials, The New York Times reported. It mostly happened in the early days of the pandemic in March 2020.

The newspapers cited multiple people with direct knowledge of the testing but did not identify them.