Announcing phony news on April Fools’ Day is one of corporate America’s favorite occasions for shameless publicity stunts. But when stonks, Dogecoin and $69 million JPG files are real things that warrant serious business coverage, the risk of jokes being taken seriously could hardly be higher. Some say that’s a good reason to skip them, not to mention the gravity that a pandemic has cast over things.
With that in mind, can you spot the prank among these recent announcements? (Scroll to the bottom for the answer.)
A: To celebrate National Burrito Day today, Chipotle is giving away $100,000 worth of Bitcoin.
B: Volkwagen’s U.S. operation is changing its name to “Voltswagen” to emphasize the company’s push into electric vehicles.
C: Robinhood is nixing a confetti animation when app users make a stock trade to reduce “distraction.”
complaints about burnout.
HERE’S WHAT’S HAPPENING
Business groups challenge President Biden’s proposed corporate tax increases. The Business Roundtable and U.S. Chamber of Commerce were among those that praised Mr. Biden’s plan to spend trillions on infrastructure. But they rejected his idea to pay for it by raising taxes, saying that doing so would endanger the economic recovery.
delay future shipments of its vaccine after a mix-up at a manufacturing plant. A top E.U. official said the bloc would allow “zero” shipments of AstraZeneca’s vaccine to Britain until the drugmaker fulfilled its commitments to Brussels. And France announced a third nationwide lockdown as its cases mount and inoculation efforts lag.
A tough day for initial public offerings. As Deliveroo had “the worst I.P.O. in London’s history,” other offerings also struggled. In the U.S., the SoftBank-backed real estate brokerage Compass priced at the bottom of a reduced range, while the low-cost airline Frontier sold at the low end of expectations. And in Canada, the space tech company MDA priced below its range.
Microsoft wins a huge contract to make augmented-reality headsets for the U.S. Army. The tech giant will receive up to $22 billion for equipping soldiers with sensors based on its HoloLens technology. It’s another big defense contract for Microsoft, which beat out Amazon to provide a $10 billion cloud computing system for the Pentagon.
Executives get a ‘sense of urgency’ in Georgia
A day after 72 Black executives signed a letter calling on companies to fight restrictive voting bills more forcefully, executives have begun speaking out more directly about laws that limit ballot access. But their statements came too late to affect a sweeping law passed last week in Georgia that added new requirements for absentee voting, limits on drop boxes and other restrictions that have an outsize impact on Black voters.
Today in Business
Delta and Coca-Cola reversed course. Ed Bastian, Delta’s C.E.O., told employees, “I need to make it crystal clear that the final bill is unacceptable and does not match Delta’s values.” James Quincey, Coca-Cola’s C.E.O., said he wanted to be “crystal clear” that “the Coca-Cola Company does not support this legislation, as it makes it harder for people to vote, not easier.”
The statements by the Atlanta-based companies angered local politicians, including Gov. Brian Kemp. In the past, corporate stands on controversial issues have led to political retribution: In 2018, Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle stripped a tax break proposal from a bill that would benefit Delta after the airline ended a promotional discount for N.R.A. members. The State House passed a similar measure yesterday, but the Senate didn’t take it up before the chambers adjourned for the year.
Retaliation also goes the other way: In an interview with ESPN, President Biden said he would “strongly support” moving Major League Baseball’s All-Star Game from Atlanta, scheduled for July.
“It is regrettable that the sense of urgency came after the legislation was passed and signed into law,” said Darren Walker, the Ford Foundation president, who is a board member at Pepsi, Ralph Lauren and Square.
said the company stood “ready to continue to help in ensuring every Georgia voter has the ability to vote.” A spokesperson for Home Depot reiterated the company’s stance that it believes “all elections should be accessible, fair and secure.” A spokesperson for Inspire Brands, the owner of Dunkin’ Donuts and Arby’s, said that it “values inclusivity” and believes that “every American should have equal access to their right to vote.”
“The argument is they are recruited, they’re used up and then they’re cast aside without even a college degree. So they say, how can this be defended in the name of amateurism?”
— Justice Samuel Alito, assessing the “stark picture” painted by college athletes in an antitrust case against the N.C.A.A. that the Supreme Court heard yesterday.
The Red Sox sold a stake to private equity. Now what?
RedBird Capital Partners confirmed its deal to buy a stake in Red Sox parent Fenway Sports Group, a transaction that values the company at $7.35 billion. DealBook spoke with RedBird’s founder, Gerry Cardinale, and Fenway’s chair, Tom Werner, about what happens next.
Buy and build. RedBird plans to acquire more teams: Mr. Cardinale noted that his company doesn’t own teams in the N.B.A., N.H.L. or M.L.S. For its part, Fenway plans to tap new opportunities in ticketing, sponsorship and media. (As part of the RedBird deal, the N.B.A. star LeBron James bought a stake in Fenway.) In media, Fenway controls NESN, and RedBird owns a stake in the YES network. “You should expect that we’re going to continue to look for ways to innovate in that area,” said Mr. Cardinale, who helped create the YES network.
Deepening ties with online gambling is also on the table. “We do have an excellent relationship with DraftKings,” Mr. Werner said, “and we’ve already had some conversations with them about partnerships.”
The deal was a better fit for the private market instead of a SPAC, the executives said, after talks to take Fenway public via a blank-check firm fell through. “In the middle of Covid, with the mandate to re-underwrite the next wave of growth for Fenway Sports Group, we probably would be better off doing that privately and then give ourselves the option down the road,” Mr. Cardinale said of going public. He also called the current SPAC market “very frothy.”
announced a deal last week to go public by merging with a blank-check firm that valued it at roughly $8 billion.) A new documentary, “WeWork: Or the Making and Breaking of a $47 Billion Unicorn,” tries to find lessons among the ups and downs. It streams on Hulu, starting tomorrow.
Jed Rothstein, the director, told DealBook that he believes what’s most compelling about WeWork isn’t what went wrong, but how it initially succeeded by turning strangers into a kind of tribe. “We still need that,” he said.
“The core idea of WeWork met a real need for community,” Mr. Rothstein said. “The voids people were trying to fill have only become more real.” After a year of social distancing, he likes the notion of curated communal spaces, which is what WeWork offered. Talking to early WeWorkers who bought the vision and later felt betrayed, he was surprised to find how much the company gave its devotees, notably a feeling that they were part of something bigger. That is worth acknowledging in a world where people will increasingly work remotely and for many different companies in their careers, Mr. Rothstein said.
WeWork’s co-founders, Adam Neumann and Miguel McKelvey, both had communal childhood experiences. Mr. Rothstein said he thought they sincerely wanted to replicate the good in group life and inspired people who hadn’t seen that before. But Mr. Neumann also focused on what he didn’t like — sharing equally — and emphasized an “eat what you kill” mentality. Ultimately, his hunger turned the community dream into a nightmare for many.
After the director talked to people who followed the initial vision, his perspective changed. “People in the film experienced real growth and fulfillment mixed with their anger,” he said. “I realized the story is much more nuanced.”
THE SPEED READ
The media conglomerate Endeavor filed to go public for a second time, while raising $1.8 billion to buy full control of the Ultimate Fighting Championship. It also added Elon Musk to its board. (WSJ, CNBC)
Vice Media is reportedly in talks to go public by merging with a SPAC. And the S.E.C. issued two notices for companies looking to go public via SPAC. (The Information, S.E.C.)
Junior bankers aren’t the only ones feeling burned out. Young lawyers are, too. (Business Insider)
Politics and policy
New York became the 15th state to legalize recreational marijuana. (NYT)
Efforts by aides to Gov. Andrew Cuomo to hide New York State’s Covid-19 death toll coincided with his efforts to win a multimillion-dollar book deal. (NYT)
An accidental disclosure by the I.R.S. revealed a $1 billion tax dispute with Bristol Myers Squibb. (NYT)
Best of the rest
The ad agency Deutsch is doubling referral bonuses for Black job candidates. (Insider)
Amazon wants its employees mostly back in its offices, while the Carlyle Group and IBM favor hybrid working models. (Insider, Bloomberg)
Paul Simon is the latest musician to sell his entire back catalog: Sony Music Publishing will buy the collection, including classics like “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” for an undisclosed amount. (NYT)
Feeling burned-out? As more workers consider a return to the office, our colleague Sarah Lyall is writing about late-pandemic anxiety and exhaustion. Tell her about how you’re coping.
April Fools’ Day quiz answer: B. If you were fooled by Volkswagen’s prank, you’re in good company. Volkswagen reportedly told journalists that a draft of the announcement was not a stunt. It later called the stunt just “a bit of fun.”
Sherry Vill remembers feeling embarrassed and stuck as the New York governor Andrew Cuomo “manhandled” her and came onto her in her own home, in front of her husband and son.
“He towered over me,” she said during a press conference on Monday. “There was nothing I could do.”
Vill, 55, met Cuomo in May 2017, when he visited her suburban house near Rochester, New York, while surveying flooding damage in the area. Hers is the latest in a series of allegations detailing a pattern of sexual misconduct by the now infamous chief of state.
Vill recalled Cuomo holding her hand, forcibly grabbing her face, aggressively kissing her cheeks and calling her beautiful. The unwanted advances made her uncomfortable, especially around her family and neighbors.
She later received a letter and pictures from the governor, addressed only to her, and a personal invitation to attend one of his local events.
“The whole thing was so strange and inappropriate, and still makes me nervous and afraid because of his power and position,” Vill said.
Cuomo’s office did not immediately return a request for comment, but his administration has so far generally denied any inappropriate touching by the governor despite a swathe of accusations from multiple women about his behavior.
Letitia James, New York attorney general, has now tapped a former acting US attorney and an employment discrimination lawyer to probe the sexual harassment allegations, while many of the state’s high-profile Democrats have already said that Cuomo should resign.
“Due to the multiple, credible sexual harassment and misconduct allegations, it is clear that Governor Cuomo has lost the confidence of his governing partners and the people of New York,” said Chuck Schumer, Senate majority leader, and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand in a joint statement earlier this month.
Cuomo is also facing widespread criticism for how he handled the early days of the coronavirus pandemic, despite once being heralded as a hero and Democratic darling.
His administration is currently being investigated for how it reported nursing home deaths from Covid-19 and is under fire for prioritizing Cuomo’s family members for then hard-to-access coronavirus tests.
Another woman, Anna Ruch, previously described a similar experience to Vill’s in 2019, when she said Cuomo put his hand on her bare lower back, touched her face and asked to kiss her.
Multiple current and former aides have now outlined inappropriate interactions with the governor, even as he publicly admonished the “pervasive poison of workplace sexual harassment” and ardently defended workplace protections amid the #MeToo movement.
Lindsey Boylan, a former economic development official, published an essay in February about how she felt Cuomo “would go out of his way to touch me on my lower back, arms and legs”. She recalled a number of his vulgar comments – including a suggestion that they play strip poker – and described her shock when, during a visit to his office, he kissed her on the lips.
“Governor Andrew Cuomo has created a culture within his administration where sexual harassment and bullying is so pervasive that it is not only condoned but expected,” Boylan wrote. “His inappropriate behavior toward women was an affirmation that he liked you, that you must be doing something right.”
Charlotte Bennett, a former executive assistant and health policy advisor in her 20s, told the New York Times that she felt Cuomo – who asked her invasive and pointed questions about her sex life, including whether she had ever slept with older men – was grooming her for a sexual relationship.
“I understood that the governor wanted to sleep with me, and felt horribly uncomfortable and scared,” Bennett said. “And was wondering how I was going to get out of it and assumed it was the end of my job.”
Alyssa McGrath, who works for the governor’s office, says Cuomo mixes “flirtatious banter with more personal comments”, and recounted one time when she caught him peeping down her shirt, the New York Times reported.
Another current aide, who has remained anonymous, accused Cuomo of fondling her under her blouse at his executive mansion – conduct that could result in a misdemeanor sexual assault charge, according to the Albany Times Union.
“The governor’s health is fine, but he is going to resign within the hour.”
Those are the words that Hillary Clinton, then a senator from New York, heard over the phone in a 2008 call announcing the imminent downfall of the sitting governor, Eliot Spitzer, in a prostitution and alleged money laundering scandal.
“Well, what is the reason causing him to resign?” Clinton asked, according to David Paterson, who would then succeed Spitzer as governor and who was in charge of breaking the news.
“I started to speak and then held my breath,” Paterson recounts in his memoir, “because I thought, ‘How do you explain a sex scandal to Hillary Clinton?’”
The implosion of current New York governor Andrew Cuomo’s career in a double scandal involving sexual harassment allegations and the misreporting of Covid deaths inside nursing homes marked a sudden turn for Cuomo, a popular politician who just months earlier had won national admiration and international praise for his handling of the pandemic.
But in a slightly longer view, the spectacle of a New York governor’s career spontaneously combusting in a sordid haze of sex allegations and possible criminality might appear more routine than shocking.
Counting the demise of Paterson himself, who exited the governor’s mansion under allegations of witness tampering in a staffer’s domestic abuse case and the improper solicitation of gifts, Cuomo is the third consecutive New York governor to land with extreme flair on the front pages of the New York City tabloids – and possibly to be ejected from office.
Paterson denied wrongdoing in the aide’s case and was not charged, but he was fined for lying under oath about accepting free World Series tickets. Spitzer was never criminally charged. Cuomo has denied wrongdoing and vowed not to resign, as most every prominent local politician has called on him to do.
While the consecutive scandals involve a range of alleged offenses of varying degrees of seriousness, the overall streak is impressive, said Doug Muzzio, a professor of political science at City University of New York’s Baruch College.
“First of all, the current scandal is not the first, not the second, not the third – but many scandals in a row,” Muzzio said. “It’s not only the governors, it is the legislators. If there were a contest between – a stakes for who was the most legislatively and executively corrupt, I don’t know, New York would be right up there.”
Other states have registered stiff competition. In 2018 the governor of Missouri, Republican Eric Greitens, resigned under serious sexual assault charges that he denied; Greitens is now said to be preparing a US Senate run. The sitting governor of Virginia, Democrat Ralph Northam, admitted to wearing blackface in the 1980s but resisted pressure to resign; one of his recent predecessors, Republican Bob McDonnell, was convicted in 2014 on federal corruption charges and sentenced to prison, only to have the conviction vacated by the US supreme court.
“Scandal and corruption in governor’s positions is far from unheard of,” said Robert Spitzer, a political science professor at the State University of New York at Cortland who is not related to the former governor. “I would just mention the state of Illinois, which had four successive governors serve jail time. That’s quite a record.”
Just a month ago, it did not appear as if Cuomo were likely to keep New York in the running in the corruption sweepstakes. He had published a memoir about leadership during the pandemic, his daily televised updates on the crisis had won an Emmy and his popularity had run unusually high for all three of his terms.
But after an aide was caught on tape admitting the manipulation of Covid death numbers, the state attorney general announced an investigation, and soon afterwards multiple women stepped forward to accuse Cuomo of sexual misconduct.
Most of the allegations against Cuomo and his predecessors involve essentially individual acts, said Muzzio, but “there must be an institutional element to it”.
“Leadership in New York is never calm,” he said. “There are too many vocal competing interests, there are too many vocal competing interests with money, and it’s a perpetual brawl with periods of calm.
“But there’s always some form of conflict.”
The Spitzer scandal started quietly, with a bank connected with Spitzer flagging large transfers as suspicious activity that could violate federal money laundering restrictions. Investigators would later allege that Spitzer spent tens of thousands of dollars on prostitutes, ultimately as “Client 9” with a service called the Emperor’s Club VIP with rates of $1,000 an hour.
As a former state attorney general and top prosecutor, Spitzer’s alleged criminality left him open to charges of rank hypocrisy and fatally damaged his ability to lead. But the sum of the allegations facing Cuomo could constitute an even deeper violation of the public trust, analysts said.
“I think taken together it does seem as though they are more serious,” Spitzer, the political scientist, said of Cuomo’s alleged misconduct. “Because you’ve got two different concerns, each of which could be the basis for calls for resignation. So put them together and I think the degree of seriousness is greater.
“He’s facing quite the whirlwind as a result.”
Multiple state investigations into Cuomo’s conduct are expected to be revealed this spring, at which point the governor’s political fate could be sealed.
While sexual misconduct charges against governors in the past have animated a lot of popular interest, said Muzzio, Cuomo’s conduct in the nursing home deaths case could pose the greater threat to his public standing over the long term.
“The nursing home situation is really serious, and that’s where the attorney general first exposed him,” said Muzzio. “And that’s a big danger for him now.”
The global leaders in Covid-19 vaccination rates are Israel and the United Arab Emirates. After them come a handful of countries that have each given between 30 and 45 shots for every 100 residents, including the United States, Britain, Bahrain, Chile and Serbia.
maximized the number of people who receive one “jab,” as the British call it — and has delayed the second jab, often for about three months.
Kate Bingham, a venture capitalist who led the committee that advised the British government on vaccination, has described the strategy this way: “I think it’s the right public health response, which is to show that you try and vaccinate as many people as possible, as soon as possible. Better to protect everybody a bit rather than to vaccinate fewer people to give them an extra 10 percent protection.”
Dr. Robert Wachter of the University of California, San Francisco, has written, “According to most vaccine experts, delaying shot #2 by a few months is unlikely to materially diminish the ultimate effectiveness of two shots.”
In Britain, the daily number of new Covid cases has fallen by more than 90 percent since peaking in early January. The decline is larger than in virtually any other country. (In the U.S., new cases have fallen 79 percent since January.) Given that the contagious B.1.1.7 variant was first discovered in Britain and is now the country’s dominant virus form, “Britain’s free-fall in cases is all the more impressive,” Wachter told me. “Clearly their vaccination strategy has been highly effective.”
British deaths have also plummeted in recent weeks:
lives saved; it also reduces the chances of future outbreaks: The fewer people who have Covid, the fewer who can infect somebody else. That’s especially important when more contagious variants are circulating. Worldwide, the number of confirmed new cases has risen 21 percent over the past month.
about 2.5 million shots a day, up from about 800,000 in mid-January. But the federal government will soon be receiving closer to four million shots a day from the vaccine makers. A big question is whether the Biden administration and state governments will be able to continue increasing the pace at which people are getting shots in their arms.
For countries where vaccine programs have only just begun, as in much of South America, Africa and Asia, the British approach may be worth mimicking.
Finally, keep in mind that one of Britain’s main vaccines has been AstraZeneca’s — the same one that some other European countries have stopped using this week, out of concern over blood clots. But there is no sign of an increase in clots in Britain. “If the choice is potentially being exposed to Covid-19, or getting the vaccine & being protected, choose the vaccine,” Devi Sridhar, a professor of public health at the University of Edinburgh, wrote yesterday.
All of this comes with the usual caveat: If the data changes, the lessons should change, too. Based on the current evidence, though, Britain appears to have landed on the most effective vaccination strategy — which is yet another sign of how powerful the vaccines are.
The latest: A delay of millions of doses ordered from India will most likely slow Britain’s vaccination campaign in coming weeks.
THE LATEST NEWS
The Times’s editorial board argues: “Nothing greases the gears of government quite like pork.” Many top Democrats and Republicans support restoring earmarks.
Modern Love: A woman’s online shopping habit wasn’t really about the clothes.
Neigh: A horse retreat in New Mexico offers life-changing “attunement.” But what is it?
Lives Lived: Dick Hoyt finished more than a thousand road races, but he didn’t run them alone. His partner was always his son Rick, a quadriplegic with cerebral palsy, whom he pushed in a wheelchair. Hoyt died at 80.
debating whether to keep the measure.
The old guidelines, from the Association of Art Museum Directors, allowed museums to sell items if they no longer fit an institution’s mission and if the proceeds went to buy other art, not to pay staff salaries or other bills.
Museums that favor keeping the new arrangement say it’s necessary for their long-term survival. “It’s misinformed to think that every museum has a board full of billionaires,” said Anne Pasternak, the director of the Brooklyn Museum. During the pandemic, the Brooklyn Museum has raised nearly $35 million at auction sales.
Last month, even the Met — the largest museum in the U.S. — said it might sell items to help underwrite the salaries of staffers involved in collection care.
Those opposed to the continuation of these sales argue that they undermine museums’ mission.“If you want to flip paintings, there are many other types of institutions where you can do that,” Erik Neil of the Chrysler Museum of Art in Norfolk, Va., told The Times. “And they are called commercial galleries.”
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Time,” one of the company’s first feature-length documentaries, and the Op-Doc “Alone.”
You can see today’s print front page here.
Today’s episode of “The Daily” is about Gov. Andrew Cuomo. On “Still Processing,” Jenna Wortham and Wesley Morris discuss a toxic racial slur.
Lalena Fisher, Claire Moses, Ian Prasad Philbrick, Tom Wright-Piersanti and Sanam Yar contributed to The Morning. You can reach the team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Allison Herren Lee was named acting chair of the Securities and Exchange Commission in January, and since then she has been active, especially when it comes to environmental, social and governance, or E.S.G., issues. The agency has issued a flurry of notices that such disclosures will be priorities this year. Today, Ms. Lee, who was appointed as a commissioner by President Donald Trump in 2019, is speaking at the Center for American Progress, where she will call for input on additional E.S.G. transparency, according to prepared remarks seen by DealBook.
The supposed distinction between what’s good and what’s profitable is diminishing, Ms. Lee will argue in the speech, saying that “acting in pursuit of the public interest and acting to maximize the bottom line” are complementary. The S.E.C.’s job is to meet investor demand for data on a range of corporate activities, and Ms. Lee’s planned remarks suggest that greater transparency on E.S.G. issues won’t be optional for much longer. “That demand is not being met by the current voluntary framework,” she will say. “Human capital, human rights, climate change — these issues are fundamental to our markets, and investors want to and can help drive sustainable solutions on these issues.”
Ms. Lee will also argue that “political spending disclosure is inextricably linked to E.S.G. issues,” based on research showing that many companies have made climate pledges while donating to candidates with contradictory voting records. The same goes for racial justice initiatives, she will say.
This is not an interim priority. Ms. Lee is acting chief, but based on recent statements by Gary Gensler, President Biden’s choice to lead the S.E.C., she’s laying the groundwork for more action rather than throwing down the gauntlet. In his confirmation hearing this month, Mr. Gensler said that investors increasingly wanted companies to disclose risks associated with climate change, diversity, political spending and other E.S.G. issues.
Not everyone at the S.E.C. is on board. Hester Peirce and Elad Roisman, fellow commissioners also appointed by Mr. Trump, recently protested the “steady flow” of climate and E.S.G. notices. They issued a public statement, asking, “Do these announcements represent a change from current commission practices or a continuation of the status quo with a new public relations twist?”
Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez suggested, to varying degrees, that the governor of New York consider resigning over allegations of sexual harassment. He has rejected those calls and is considering running for a fourth term.
The U.S. is considering new ways to protect itself against cyberattacks. Efforts by China and Russia to breach government and corporate computer networks — and the failure of American intelligence to detect them — have spurred discussions about ways to organize U.S. cyberdefenses, including more partnerships with private companies.
Credit Suisse is accused of continuing to help Americans evade taxes. The Swiss bank aided clients in hiding assets, seven years after it promised U.S. federal prosecutors that it would stop doing so, according to a whistle-blower report. That puts the firm at risk of a fresh investigation and more financial penalties. The bank said it was cooperating with the authorities.
A veteran Democratic official is poised to join the Biden administration. Gene Sperling, an economic wonk who served in the Clinton and Obama administrations, is likely to oversee the implementation of the $1.9 trillion stimulus plan, Politico reports.
Stripe is now Silicon Valley’s most valuable start-up. The payments processor has raised funding from investors like Sequoia and Fidelity at a $95 billion valuation. Stripe plans to use the money to expand in Europe, including in its founders’ home country, Ireland.
chief counsel of the cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase before joining the O.C.C. But his enthusiasm isn’t based on Bitcoin’s success as much as on his personal struggles, he told DealBook.
Mr. Brooks borrowed his way out of an ailing town. He grew up in Pueblo, Colo., a steel center that lost its purpose in the 1980s. His father took his own life when Mr. Brooks was 14, and he and his mother had little. In high school, he waited tables and took out loans for school, for a car and eventually for a home. Now, he’s betting that blockchain can help the underbanked do the same more easily.
“Unlocking credit availability allows people to move up the ladder,” Mr. Brooks said. Nearly 50 million Americans don’t have credit scores, but many are creditworthy. Traditional rating systems aren’t equipped for nuanced assessments that might include things like rent, Netflix bills or income from gig work. For many, the inability to borrow limits opportunities to achieve financial security.
At the O.C.C., Mr. Brooks started Project Reach, a financial inclusion initiative. His first move since resigning from the agency in January is to join the board of the fintech firm Spring Labs as an independent director, DealBook is the first to report. Among other things, the company is developing richer data environments for credit scoring using blockchain tech.
Finding solutions to financial inclusion that are immune to politics is key, noted Mr. Brooks, a Trump administration appointee. Credit, he argues, lets people bet on themselves regardless of which party is making policy, and the current system excludes many worthy borrowers. “Let’s let more people climb ladders,” Mr. Brooks said.
“It’s just a pent-up cycle where the money has nowhere to go, so it’s doing stupid things.”
— Howard Lindzon, an investor, entrepreneur and market commentator, speaking to The Times’s Erin Griffith on the booms (or bubbles) in everything from trading cards to Bitcoin, SPACs and so-called meme stocks.
new data from the Harris Poll, revealed exclusively in DealBook.
A year of living in fear created unlikely heroes. For the past year or so, the Harris Poll has monitored public sentiment in weekly surveys of more than 114,000 people. At the height of the emergency, more than half of respondents were afraid of dying from the virus and a similar share were afraid of losing their jobs. “Only in the past month, with vaccines rising and hospitalizations and deaths declining, is fear abating,” the report noted.
The Times’s Opinion podcast “Sway,” the economist Mariana Mazzucato told Kara Swisher that the traditional narrative has holes in it.
“Do you have any idea where the innovation in places like Silicon Valley came from?” asked Ms. Mazzucato, the founder of University College London’s Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose. She ticked off technologies like the internet and GPS: “We wouldn’t have any smart product without all the smart technology, which was government-financed.”
Listen to the conversation here.
THE SPEED READ
The French food giant Danone ousted Emmanuel Faber as its chairman and C.E.O., under pressure from two activist investors. (FT)
A Maryland hotel magnate who cut a deal to buy The Baltimore Sun from Tribune Publishing may instead challenge Alden Global Capital for all of Tribune’s newspapers. (NYT)
The value of short bets against SPACs has more than tripled since the start of the year. (WSJ)
Politics and policy
Jeff Bezos declined an invitation to speak at a Senate hearing on economic inequality, which will include testimony from an Amazon employee involved in union organization efforts in Alabama. (CNN)
With pandemic stimulus out of the way, President Biden is now making infrastructure spending a priority. Can it pass Congress? (FT)
Ant Group’s C.E.O., Simon Hu, resigned amid pressure on the Chinese fintech giant from Beijing to overhaul its business. (NYT)
In a securities filing, Elon Musk gave himself a new title, “Technoking of Tesla,” and the company’s C.F.O. Zach Kirkhorn is “Master of Coin.” (S.E.C.)
Tesla’s California factory recorded hundreds of Covid-19 cases after Mr. Musk reopened the plant last May, according to county data. (WaPo)
Best of the rest
Peter Diamandis, the founder of the X Prize, held an in-person conference that became a Covid-19 superspreader event — and then followed up with a webinar that touted questionable treatments. (MIT Technology Review)
How the I.P.O. of Coupang, an e-commerce giant, signals a potential weakening of South Korea’s traditional corporate elite. (Bloomberg)
Some at Goldman Sachs are reportedly frustrated by the leadership of David Solomon during the pandemic, including his criticism of working remotely — while he himself has booked numerous getaways. (Bloomberg)
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The coronavirus vaccination czar for New York governor Andrew Cuomo made appeals for political support for the embattled politician, prompting ethical concerns, according to multiple media reports Sunday.
New York’s “vaccination czar”, longtime Cuomo aide Larry Schwartz, reportedly pivoted in at least one telephone conversation with a county executive from a discussion of vaccination policy directly to an appeal for support for Cuomo.
Schwartz has denied mixing political and policy calls or acting improperly.
Cuomo, the state’s governor since 2010, is in a fight for his political life under the weight of a half-dozen sexual misconduct allegations and a scandal over the deliberate misreporting of Covid deaths in nursing homes.
Both US senators from New York and most of the congressional delegation have called on Cuomo to resign, as prosecutors investigate the charges against the three-term governor.
“There is no way I resign,” Cuomo said last week. The governor has denied all allegations of sexual misconduct. He is up for re-election in 2022.
One county executive has already filed a preliminary report with state attorney general Letitia James of a possible ethics violation by the Cuomo administration in the Schwartz matter, according to reporting in the Washington Post and New York Times.
“At best, it was inappropriate,” an unnamed executive told the Post of Schwartz’s mixing discussions of vaccination policy and Cuomo’s political future. “At worst, it was clearly over the ethical line.”
At least two other county executives reported a close juxtaposition of phone conversations about vaccine policy with other conversations with Schwartz about supporting Cuomo.
Schwartz served as the governor’s top aide for four years during Cuomo’s first administration and was called back into service after the outbreak of the coronavirus emergency.
He denied inappropriate conversations with county-level officials; he acknowledged he made calls but said he did so as a long-time friend of Cuomo and did not discuss vaccines in them. “I did nothing wrong,” Schwartz told the Washington Post. “I have always conducted myself in a manner commensurate to a high ethical standard.”
With the most influential Democrats in the state already having turned on Cuomo as his third term wanes, the governor’s political fate may be beyond the ability of county-level officials to decide.
The rollout of vaccines in New York state has roughly tracked the national average. The state endured one of the worst and deadliest outbreaks of Covid-19 early in the pandemic, with Cuomo’s clear daily communication at the time about the threat winning him praise, especially in contrast with former president Donald Trump.
But outgoing New York City mayor Bill de Blasio, who has for years been locked in a personal feud with Cuomo, was among those criticizing Albany for not doing enough to get vaccine doses to the city.
“We don’t get our fair share of vaccines for this city,” De Blasio told CBS News’ Face the Nation program on Sunday. “We’re vaccinating people not just from the city, but also from the suburbs, surrounding states.”
De Blasio predicted that Cuomo would resign under pressure from an impeachment inquiry that was opened by the state assembly judiciary committee last week.
“He is used to getting things his way, and it has been almost an imperial governorship,” De Blasio said. But the folks in this state and the political leadership don’t believe him anymore. He doesn’t have any credibility. I think an impeachment proceeding will begin, and I think he will be impeached, and perhaps right before that he’ll decide to resign.”
Nearly 6,000 people in New York state tested positive for coronavirus on Saturday, and 62 people died.
The Rupert Murdoch-owned New York Post joined most of the state’s Democratic congressional delegation in calling on Cuomo to resign in an editorial.
“Simply put: Any fair effort to get to the bottom of the avalanche of sexual-harassment allegations could take months – whereas legislators already have all the evidence they need to move to impeach Governor Cuomo immediately for his nursing-home horrors,” the paper said.
At the height of the early coronavirus crisis, while Cuomo’s tone and leadership struck a defining contrast with Trump, the latest allegations against the Cuomo administration evoked a different kind of unflattering association with Trump.
The former president explicitly tied coronavirus aid for states on the willingness of governors to demonstrate political fealty to him. Now county executives allege that a Cuomo aide has hinted at a similar tie.
Among those who caught the association was Donald Trump Jr, who tweeted on Sunday afternoon: “Andrew Cuomo is everything the media pretended Trump was times about 1000.”
Earlier this month the Democratic governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo, sat down in front of TV cameras in the executive chamber of the state capitol in Albany to deliver one of the most awkward messages of his decade in office.
By then three women had accused him of sexually inappropriate behaviour. Among them was Lindsey Boylan, a former economic development adviser who in a Medium post alleged that while they were on board an official flight he proposed a game of strip poker and, in a separate incident, forced a kiss on her.
Given the uproar, Cuomo, 63, managed to remain remarkably composed. He struck a posture that could be described as contrite aggression, or aggressive contrition.
Speaking slowly and emphatically, as though addressing a class of pre-schoolers, he apologized while denying he had done anything wrong.
“I now understand that I acted in a way that made people feel uncomfortable,” he said, adding: “I never touched anyone inappropriately.”
To drive the point home, he repeated the phrase. “I never touched anyone inappropriately”.
The remark was intended to buy time, shoring up a crumbling political position while an independent investigation by the state attorney general, Letitia James, ran its course. It was not intended to deepen Cuomo’s travails by triggering a traumatic reaction in another alleged victim who happened to be standing a few feet away.
The Cuomo staff member was dutifully listening when he punched out that line about never having “touched anyone inappropriately”. According to the Albany Times Union, she grew emotional, later telling a supervisor he had done precisely that to her.
The female staffer said Cuomo had summoned her to the second floor of the executive mansion – his private quarters – supposedly to help him fix his phone. Then he shut the door, and in the Times Union’s account “allegedly reached under her blouse and began to fondle her”.
The allegation of aggressive groping took the maelstrom surrounding Cuomo to a new level. What began as a dispute over the apparent cover-up of Covid-19 deaths in nursing homes and escalated with claims of bullying against a fellow Democrat, Ron Kim, exploded into a fully-fledged sexual harassment scandal involving seven women.
The bush fires Cuomo is fighting have gained a momentum of their own, with a new revelation or political setback seemingly erupting with every hour that passes. Renowned for having an iron grip on his own political narrative – to the extent that last year he wrote a book heaping praise on himself for his handling of the Covid crisis, subtitled Leadership Lessons from the Covid-19 Pandemic – Cuomo is looking increasingly impotent as he watches his image unravel in what is fast becoming a fall from grace of legendary proportions.
“The governor is fighting day to day right now,” said John Kaehny, executive director of a watchdog group, Reinvent Albany. “He’s looking terminally afflicted with scandal – he’s going down.”
On Friday, several of the most prominent Democrats on the New York stage, including US representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Jerrold Nadler, who chairs the House judiciary committee, called for Cuomo to go. Senators Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand followed, joining a growing army of Democrats demanding the governor’s head, notably 59 state lawmakers who the day before signed a joint letter calling on him to “put the people of New York first”.
William Sulzer in 1913. It is not an idle threat. The judiciary committee of the state assembly has already opened an inquiry into the sexual harassment allegations that is the initial step towards impeachment.
‘We need to be unwavering in our values’
Jessica González-Rojas, a Democratic assembly member representing parts of Queens and one of the 59 calling for resignation, said she was now going further and pressing for impeachment. It didn’t matter that Cuomo was a leader from her own party, she said. What mattered was accountability.
“We need to be unwavering in our values and hold on to those standards for anyone, no matter their political affiliations,” she said. “Enough is enough – we must stop being distracted by the misogynist behaviour and abuses of power of this governor.”
González-Rojas said she saw a strong common threat connecting the scandals battering Cuomo. To her, they all flow from the same source: his abusive wielding of power and the toxic and cruel culture that has proliferated around him in Albany.
“What we’re seeing here is a pattern of overarching behaviour that for years has been accepted by New Yorkers because they saw it as strength. But as we peel back its layers we can see it more clearly as deeply undemocratic and morally repugnant, and we are starting to hold him accountable.”
For González-Rojas, Cuomo’s misogyny was evident even in the mantra he championed during the devastating early days of the pandemic when New York was at the core of the crisis: “New York tough”.
“There are ways to lead,” she said, “that are about being compassionate, vulnerable, as opposed to the tough-guy image he puts forward.”
That tough-guy image continues to prevail, remarkably so given the opprobrium Cuomo is facing. In his responses to his female accusers, he has belittled one woman as a “known antagonist” and accused others of peddling falsehoods. In the case of Boylan, questions are being asked about who leaked damaging details from her personnel file.
On Friday, Cuomo maintained his pugnacious profile when he repeated his determination not to resign, insisting “I never harassed anyone, I never abused anyone, I never assaulted anyone, and I never would”. Throwing down the gauntlet to the growing band of Democrats turning on him, he cast their call for his resignation as an act of “cancel culture” and said: “I was not elected by politicians, I was elected by the people.”
But his bombast belies the fact that his hold on power looks increasingly weak as he is whiplashed by so many crises. Paradoxically, the scandal that could prove to be most perilous legally is the one receiving least attention – the nursing homes furor.
revelation – admitted in part by his top aide Melissa DeRosa to state lawmakers – that the administration suppressed the number of nursing home deaths by several thousand in order to avoid a federal inquiry. DeRosa claimed the move was made to avoid Donald Trump tying them up in knots, but it sounded suspiciously like a cover-up.
‘We have a duty to remove him’
The nursing home crisis sparked a federal investigation that could haunt Cuomo for months or years. But it was not until the storm turned more personal, with details emerging of his bullying behavior, that his stumble turned into free-fall.
It came in February from an unlikely party – the relatively unknown state lawmaker Kim, who told the New York Post that after he spoke out about nursing home deaths he received a call from Cuomo. According to Kim, the governor threatened him.
“You have not seen my wrath … I can tell the whole world what a bad person you are and you will be finished. You will be destroyed,” he said, according to Kim. Cuomo denied the account.
In an interview with NPR on Friday, Kim said the call was part of “a pattern of ‘[Cuomo] abusing his position of power”. The lawmaker added his voice to the calls for impeachment, saying: “We have a duty to remove him.”
Kim’s action in going public opened the floodgates. Since then a host of politicians, employees and reporters have lined up to add their own strikingly similar stories about the toxic culture Cuomo has nurtured around him. Among those emboldened individuals was Lindsey Boylan – and in her wake the six other women who came forward with reports of inappropriate sexual conduct.
The fate of the man lauded as recently as a year ago as “America’s governor” is rapidly taking on a significance greater than his own political future. Many see it as the next big test of the MeToo movement.
“This is a defining moment for survivor justice,” said Shaunna Thomas, a co-founder of the progressive women’s group UltraViolet. “We need to send a very clear signal – that harassment and abuse in the workplace must have consequences, and that includes not being governor of New York state.”
White House press secretary Jen Psaki took a question just now on Joe Biden’s response to the 13 House Democrats who have called for New York governor Andrew Cuomo to resign in light of the sexual assault and harassment allegations that have come out against him.
Psaki said at the press briefing that Biden “believes that every woman who has come forward … deserves to have her voice heard, should be treated with respect and should be able to tell her story” and supports the state’s investigation into the allegations.
“We have of course watched the news of the number of lawmakers who have called for that, but I don’t have any additional announcements.”
Cuomo is set to have a call with the press at 1 pm. We’ll be keeping an eye on that to see if he addresses the calls for resignation then.
Michigan’s health department just announced that all adults 16 or older will be eligible to receive the vaccine on April 5, nearly a month before Joe Biden’s target date to have all American adults eligible for the vaccine.
Almost one million people in the state have received at least one dose of the vaccine since December.
Dr Joneigh Khaldun, the state’s chief medical executive, said that the state hopes an opening of vaccine eligibility will help address disparities and barriers in the vaccination rollout.
“We will continue to focus our efforts on removing barriers to access for our most vulnerable to exposure and those at highest risk of severe illness,” Khaldun said.
Jeffrey Zients, coordinator for the White House Covid-19 Response Team, reiterated Joe Biden’s message from last night that the administration’s goal is to make all adults eligible for the Covid-19 vaccine by May 1 and have enough doses for all adults by the end of May.
While all adults may not be vaccinated by the start of May, everyone should be able to sign up for a vaccination appointment. The federal government will be launching a website and a call hotline to assist people trying to make appointments.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is supporting a mass-vaccination sight in Detroit that will be able to administer 6,000 shots a day, Zients said.
Three more Democratic members of New York’s congressional delegation have released statements this morning calling for governor Andrew Cuomo to resign. A total of 13 House Democrats from New York have now said Cuomo should step down.
Antonio Delgado, Brian Higgins and Sean Patrick Maloney, who is chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, released statements this morning after nine other House Democrats from the state concurrently released statements.
Five Democratic state senators from Long Island who have been historically friendly with New York governor Andrew Cuomo released a statement this morning calling for him to step down while he is under investigation.
State senators John Brooks, James Gaughran, Todd Kaminsky, Anna Kaplan and Kevin Thomas released a joint statement as Long Island’s state senate majority that Cuomo is not fit to lead as governor in light of the allegations.
The senators say the sexual harassment and assault allegations against the governor “are beyond troubling and describe a disturbing pattern of behavior that also now includes a potentially criminal act”.
“The gravity of these claims makes it clear to us that the governor cannot lead the state while faithfully responding to multiple investigations,” reads the statement.
Cuomo has not responded to the statement nor the statements released by nine Democrats from the US House earlier this morning.
In a span of minutes, nine members of New York’s congressional delegation put out statements calling on governor Andrew Cuomo to resign in light of the sexual assault and harassment allegations against the governor.
The representatives include House judiciary chair Jerry Nadler and House oversight chair Carolyn Maloney. They were joined by representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Jamaal Bowman, Mondaire Jones, Grace Meng, Nydia Velasquez, Yvette Clark and Adriano Espaillat, all who released nearly concurrent statements denouncing the governor and demanding his resignation.
While top Democrats in New York’s state assembly have called on Cuomo to resign, including New York Senate majority leader Andrew Stewart-Cousins, this is the first time the nine representatives have called for Cuomo’s resignation. They join House Democrat Kathleen Rice, who demanded Cuomo step down last week.
In their statements, the Democratic representatives referenced the harassment and assault allegations leveled against the governor as well as reports that his office mismanaged the spread of Covid-19 in nursing homes.
“The deeply disturbing allegations of at least six women, including several former employees, offer detailed descriptions of sexual misconduct that raise additional concerns about the Governor’s fitness to hold any position of public trust,” Jones said in his statement.
In opening remarks to leaders of India, Australia, Japan had a virtual meeting with Joe Biden this morning, the president said that the US is committed to helping allies in the region “achieve stability”.
“A free and open Indo-Pacific is essential,” Biden told the leaders. “The Quad is going to be vital in our cooperation in the Indo-Pacific and I look forward to looking closely to working with you all of you in the coming years.”
The meeting was the first between leaders of “the Quad”, the nickname for the alliance between the US, India, Australia and Japan, who are primarily teaming up to counter China’s efforts in making territorial claims in the Indo-Pacific region. Leaders of the other three “Quad” countries expressed enthusiasm similar to Biden’s over the alliance.
Senator Ted Cruz is offering signed copies of a children’s book he didn’t write as a gift to donors of his campaign.
In an email sent out to supporters, Cruz’s campaign said that supporters who chip in $60 will get a copy of Dr Seuss’ Green Eggs and Ham signed by the Texas senator, calling it a “cancel culture collectible” that will “be a great conversation piece”.
Green Eggs and Ham is one of the many Dr Seuss books that will continue to be in print, but Cruz and other conservatives have latched onto the recent announcement that six Dr Seuss books will no longer be published as another casualty of “cancel culture”. Dr Seuss’ Enterprises, the company that oversees the publication of the late children author’s books, made the decision to stop printing the book last year, saying that they contain racist and insensitive depictions.
Earlier this month, Cruz blamed Joe Biden – who was not involved in the decision to end publication of those six Dr Seuss books – for the “cancellation” tweeting: “Could Biden try to ban my book next?”
This is Lauren Aratani taking over for Martin Belam. The National Guard said yesterday that it will cost an additional $111m to extend their deployment at the US Capitol through May. That brings the total cost of their presence in Washington following the insurrection in January to $521m, the Wall Street Journal reported yesterday.
The National Guard is set to stay at the US Capitol through 23 May after secretary of defense Lloyd Austin approved the extension, following a request from the US Capitol Police. The National Guard were originally set to leave today. About 2,300 National Guard members will remain in Washington until May, a fraction of the 26,000 members that were originally deployed in January.
The cost of extra security is tacked onto the $30m in damages and other security measures, like a fence that surrounds the Capitol, brought out because of the insurrection. Last month, Capitol architect J. Brett Blanton told Congress that the cost to rebuild will “be considerable and beyond the scope of the current budgetary environment”.
Jennifer Rubin’s verdict on Joe Biden’s first national prime time TV address last night was that it was “a normal speech for abnormal times”:
Many Americans have almost forgotten what a normal president and a normal White House address sounds like. You might remember: The president uses his appearances sparingly to highlight the most important events and issues — such as the passage of a landmark rescue plan. The speech is devoid of insults, slurs and accusations, and it is sparing in its use of “I.” That is what the country got Thursday night during President Biden’s first prime-time address.
It was reassuring to tune in, not fretting about the next outrageous insult or abject lie. It was a delight to see someone not reading the speech for the first time.
The speech itself was sober in retrospect and optimistic in forecast. Biden recalled our “collective suffering” and the heroic efforts of scientists and health-care professionals. He poetically announced, “Finding light in the darkness is a very American thing to do. In fact, it might be the most American thing we do.” As he is wont to do, Biden commiserated with the loss of life and the economic turmoil, the educational interruption and the missed family occasions. Ironically, he said, we found unity in suffering. “While it was different for everyone, we all lost something.”
Read more here: Washington Post – Jennifer Rubin – Joe Biden delivers a normal speech for abnormal times
Joe Biden’s meeting this morning with “the Quad” – the leaders of India, Japan, Australia and the US is underway. It’s a virtual one, although we are given to understand that Japanese prime minister Yoshihide Suga will be announced as the first foreign leader to visit Biden’s White House in person in due course. That’s a show of how significant the Asia-Pacific region is to the new administration’s foreign policy.
These Covid-impacted virtual summits are certainly providing some unique images of US diplomacy. As Jennifer Jacobs, Bloomberg News’ Senior White House reporter notes here, this Quad meeting hasn’t exactly been welcomed by China either. Relations with China are a topic which is sure to take up a big chunk of the discussion this morning.
You can understand that there is a pervading fascination over what Donald Trump will do next and how that might play out in a Republican party that needs the support of his base of voters to win the next election cycle. Burgess Everett has a go at reading the runes this morning for Politico:
Donald Trump sounds like he’s ready for a GOP civil war. But he’s also eager to play a leading role in Senate Republicans’ battle for the majority. The former president is dialing up GOP senators to back their campaigns and talk strategy, weighing how to approach primaries in critical open seats and making sure he leaves an imprint on the midterm elections.
The GOP’s worst-case scenario would be running campaign operations at odds with Trump in must-win states across the country next year. With that in mind, Republican senators are making a fresh effort to ensure they and Trump are aligned as much as possible — especially given lingering tensions between the ex-president, their leadership and the seven GOP colleagues who recently voted to convict him at his impeachment trial.
“He brought a bunch of new voters into the party that we want to keep,” said Sen Marco Rubio, who is running for reelection and has spoken recently to Trump. “He’s the most influential Republican in America. He’s not going to ride off into the sunset, write his memoirs and open a library.”
Read more here: Politico – Trump dives into battle for Senate
Aaron Miguel Cantú writes for us today as part of our new Overpoliced, underprotected series.
As protests against racist police violence roiled the US, students from California State University, Chico, helped swell local demonstrations last summer. Days after a Juneteenth vigil in which Phillips gave an emotional account of his son’s death, the city council approved a request from Mayor Ann Schwab to form an ad hoc committee to review the department’s use of force policies.
Some claim to have been skeptical of the gesture from the start, including the city’s vice-mayor at the time, Alex Brown.
The committee “was made up of the police chief and two members of the Chico police officers’ union, as well as three council members and their appointees,” Brown told the Guardian. “So right from the get go, it looked like the deck was stacked against real human engagement participation in the process.”
Brown’s appointee was Cory Hunt, a member of the newly formed Defund Chico PD group. The committee met virtually once a week. Almost immediately, the meetings became a sounding board for the police and their allies to tout the department’s own glowing self-assessment.
“The structure of the committee was so biased,” Hunt recalled. “Any true questions I presented were met with hostility.”
At one climactic meeting, Hunt brought up his own heart-stopping encounter with a Chico officer who nearly pulled a gun on him during a traffic stop. Hunt mentioned the anecdote to convey the need for implicit bias training for officers. He was brushed off.
“That was the only nugget of realness that occurred in the process,” Brown said of the incident. “You saw these displays of power and privilege play out in this very public setting.”
Read more here: A California town was promised police reform – then police got involved
Even before the Trump case crossed his desk, Vance had largely decided not to run for re-election. He and his wife, Peggy McDonnell, felt that he had done much of what he set out to do—among other successes, he and his federal partners had secured judgments in a dozen major bank cases, producing more than fourteen billion dollars in fines and forfeitures. This inflow covers the DA’s annual budget many times over, and also pays for a two-hundred-and-fifty-million-dollar fund for community-justice programs.
But Vance is sixty-six, and the pressure of managing one of the highest-profile prosecutorial offices in the country has been wearying. “It turned out to be tougher than I thought it would be,” he conceded. He told me that, although his larger-than-life predecessor, Robert Morgenthau, held the office for thirty-five years—retiring at age ninety—he himself was ready to give the next generation a shot. “There’s nothing worse than a politician who doesn’t know when to leave,” he said.
Read more here: New Yorker – Cab Cyrus Vance Jr nail Trump?
Nine of New York’s most powerful and prominent Democrats have joined calls for the state’s governor, Andrew Cuomo, to resign in the wake of multiple sexual misconduct allegations and scrutiny over his administration’s misreporting of Covid-19 deaths among nursing home residents.
The group of congressional representatives includes Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a standard bearer for the party’s progressive wing, as well as Jerry Nadler, who chairs the House judiciary committee, and Carolyn Maloney, the chair of the House oversight committee.
Nadler said on Friday that Cuomo had lost the confidence of New Yorkers. “The repeated accusations against the governor, and the manner in which he has responded to them, have made it impossible for him to continue to govern at this point,” the congressman said.
In a joint statement issued with Jamaal Bowman, another New York congressman, Ocasio-Cortez said the latest allegation of sexual harassment against Cuomo was “alarming” and “raises concerns about the present safety and well-being of the administration’s staff. These allegations have all been consistent and highly detailed, and there are also credible media reports substantiating their accounts.”
The duo added that the six accusations of sexual harassment and misconduct leveled at Cuomo came on top of claims that the governor’s administration hid data on Covid-19 deaths in nursing homes, a combination that means that Cuomo “can no longer effectively lead in the face of so many challenges”.
In total, 10 of the 19 Democrats from New York elected to the House of Representatives have now called for Cuomo’s resignation, with Kathleen Rice, who represents a section of New York’s Long Island, previously calling for his removal.
Friday’s statements came one day after Bill de Blasio, mayor of New York City and a longtime Cuomo rival, also urged the governor to step down, alongside 59 New York state lawmakers, meaning that almost all major New York Democratshave now turned on the state’s chief executive.
On Thursday the New York state assembly launched an “impeachment investigation” into the sexual misconduct allegations made by the six women. A separate investigation is being led by the state attorney general, Letitia James.
“The reports of accusations concerning the governor are serious,” said Carl Heastie, the speaker of the state assembly. The assembly judiciary committee will oversee the investigation, which will have the power to interview witnesses and subpoena documents. Forty-seven state senators have already said Cuomo should step down, more than the 46 needed to convict the governor if he was impeached.
Separately, police in Albany said that they have been notified of the allegations and that these “may have risen to the level of a crime” although this does not mean they have opened a criminal investigation.
Cuomo has denied any wrongdoing in his treatment of women, although he has provided a general apology if any of his previous actions made anyone feel uncomfortable. He has so far resisted calls to resign, saying he was elected by the people of New York and not other politicians.
On the nursing home deaths, the governor has claimed his administration had to verify deaths of residents at hospitals, but critics questioned why that hadn’t held up the release of data in other states. Cuomo’s office didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
Cuomo in recent days has been calling lawmakers and supporters asking them to refrain from calling for his resignation, and instead support the ongoing investigations.
In weeks past, calls for Cuomo’s impeachment or resignation have come from Republicans or left-leaning Democrats in New York City. But more Democratic lawmakers from surrounding and upstate communities are now urging Cuomo to resign as investigations into his conduct continue.
Along with an allegation that the governor groped a female aide at the Executive Mansion last year, Cuomo is facing allegations of sexually suggestive remarks and behavior toward women, including female aides. One aide said he asked her if she would ever have sex with an older man. And another aide claimed Cuomo’ once kissed her without consent, and said the governor’s aides publicly smeared her after she accused him of sexual harassment.
The White House press secretary, Jen Psaki, has repeatedly said that Joe Biden and Kamala Harris both support the attorney general’s investigation into the harassment allegations.
Spokespeople for New York’s Democratic US senators Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Friday.
The New York state assembly has authorized its judiciary committee to start an “impeachment investigation” into sexual misconduct allegations brought by six women against Andrew Cuomo.
The panel’s investigation, which would run parallel to one being led by the state attorney general, Letitia James, would be authorized to interview witnesses, subpoena documents and evaluate evidence, said Carl Heastie, the speaker of the state assembly.
“The reports of accusations concerning the governor are serious,” Heastie said in a statement.
Cuomo, 63, has denied all allegations by the women, most of whom are former aides. The most recent is an unnamed aide who told the Times-Union newspaper on Tuesday that Cuomo had groped her after calling her to the executive mansion last year under the pretext of business.
Cuomo denied the groping accusation, the Times-Union reported on Wednesday, saying “I have never done anything like this” and calling the details “gut-wrenching”. Representatives for Cuomo did not immediately respond to Reuters’ request for comment.
Reuters could neither independently verify the woman’s identity nor her account.
The governor issued a broad apology at a news conference last week for any behavior that made women feel uncomfortable, but he maintained that he had never touched anyone inappropriately.
Heastie, who said he decided to launch the investigation after meeting with fellow Democrats who control the assembly, said last weekend that Cuomo should “seriously consider whether he can effectively meet the needs of the people of New York”.
The list of New York politicians, including Cuomo’s fellow Democrats, calling on the governor to step down has been growing, and on Thursday included the New York City mayor, Bill de Blasio, who said Cuomo “just can’t serve as governor any more”.
Cuomo has said he will not resign and has asked the public to await the results of that investigation before making judgment.
De Blasio, a longtime political rival of Cuomo, said on Thursday that the latest accusation was disturbing.
“The specific allegation that the governor called an employee of his, someone who he had power over, called them to a private place and then sexually assaulted her, it’s absolutely unacceptable,” De Blasio told reporters. “It is disgusting to me, and he can no longer serve as governor.”
Calls for Cuomo to step down have been mounting since late February, when Cuomo’s first accuser, Lindsey Boylan, a former aide and current Manhattan borough president candidate, published an essay accusing him of making unwanted advances.
The governor has also faced accusations in recent weeks that his administration sought to downplay the number of nursing home residents killed by Covid-19.
Last weekend, the state senate majority leader, Andrea Stewart-Cousins, called on the governor to resign, saying his governing style created a “toxic work environment” and the sexual misconduct allegations had undermined his ability to lead.
On Thursday, more than 55 Democratic New York legislators followed suit in a letter calling for Cuomo’s resignation.
“As legislators and as New Yorkers we all must decide what is best for the future of New York state,” read the letter, which was posted on Twitter by one of its signatories, the Democratic assemblywoman Amanda Septimo, of the South Bronx.