A combined 59 Democratic New York state lawmakers issued a letter Thursday calling on Gov. Andrew Cuomo to resign in light of his altering of nursing home COVID-19 deaths and at least six allegations of sexual misconduct.
Cuomo “has lost the confidence of the public and the state legislature, rendering him ineffective in this time of most urgent need,” the lawmakers wrote. “We have a Lieutenant Governor who can step in and lead for the remainder of the term, and this is what is best for New Yorkers in this critical time. It is time for Governor Cuomo to resign.”
Of the 59 Democratic lawmakers who signed the letter, 40 are in the New York state assembly, which has the authority to impeach Cuomo. In the event those 40 lawmakers take the next step and call for Cuomo’s impeachment, they would be just five votes shy of the 76 needed to successfully impeach the governor, as 31 Republican assembly members have already come out in support of impeachment.
Impeachment of a New York governor is a much more serious matter than impeachment at the federal level. Cuomo would be stripped of his powers immediately upon his impeachment by the assembly and Lieutenant Gov. Kathy Hochul would become acting governor. Cuomo would regain his authority only after the state senate voted to acquit.
1/3) NEW: A combined 59 members of @NYSenDems and @NYSA_Majority are now calling on @NYGovCuomo to resign, saying in a new letter “he has lost the confidence of the public and the state legislature.” With 40 signatories in the Assembly, that number now surpasses a… pic.twitter.com/6HoGxZUHF9
— Zack Fink (@ZackFinkNews) March 11, 2021
Republican Assembly Member Kieran Michael Lalor told the Daily Caller News Foundation that the letter Thursday was “definitely a step towards impeachment,” but he explained there’s a number of hurdles to cross before the chamber would be ready to begin proceedings.
“If you’re a member of the assembly, you’re one of the only 150 people in the world who have the actual mechanism to remove the governor,” Lalor said. “He’s not going to resign. Unless you’re also calling for impeachment, it’s kind of disingenuous.”
Cuomo has steadfastly refused to resign amid allegations of sexual harassment, saying to do so would be “anti-Democratic.”
Lalor noted that former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer resigned from his post in March 2008 amid a prostitution scandal not because of calls for his resignation, but because he was told by the state assembly that there were enough votes for his impeachment.
“It’s the threat of impeachment that gets governors to step down,” Lalor said. “Calling for resignation doesn’t get governors to step down. All of my colleagues who are saying resign, they should really be saying impeach, and I hope that they will realize that.”
“We’re talking about the deaths of 15,000 vulnerable New Yorkers,” Lalor said in reference to Cuomo’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic in nursing homes. “What could be more important than that? What are we doing in the assembly today, yesterday, tomorrow, next week, that’s as important as bringing justice to the 15,000 people who died and their families?”
Even if enough assembly members come out in support of impeaching Cuomo, proceedings can’t begin unless State Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie allows a vote on the matter, Lalor explained.
Lalor said he doesn’t expect Heastie to announce his position on a Cuomo resignation or impeachment until he’s finished negotiating the state’s budget bill, which is expected to be wrapped up by the end of March.
“He’s negotiating a budget with a very weak and desperate governor,” Lalor said. “He doesn’t want Cuomo to know, because he’s going to get everything he wants in this budget.”
“If the speaker came out for impeachment, he’d have 76 votes within minutes. That’s a great piece of leverage that the speaker has,” Lalor said. “He’s choosing to use that leverage to get his budget priorities rather than using that leverage to check the chief executive, bring justice to the sexual harassment victims, the 15,000 nursing home victims and their families.”