You probably haven’t heard of Republican Rep. Tom Reed of New York unless a) he’s your representative, or b) you’re a political junkie, either of the amateur or professional variety. No offense to Mr. Reed, but he’s not a household name.
My guess is that his state’s governor has heard about him though, and not because he’s from the Empire State.
According to Buffalo’s WIVB-TV, Reed hinted on Thursday he might be running against Andrew Cuomo in 2022, just one day after he asked the Department of Justice to subpoena the embattled Democrat over his administration’s counting of New York’s nursing home COVID-19 death total.
“Governor Cuomo, your days are numbered, and there’s leadership coming to Albany very soon,” Reed said.
It came one day after he — along with the six other Republicans from New York’s congressional caucus — signed a letter asking acting U.S. Attorney General Monty Wilkinson and the Department of Justice to “issue subpoenas for Governor Cuomo, the Secretary to the Governor, the New York State Commissioner of Health and their staff on all documentation and communications related to their nursing home policies during the COVID-19 pandemic.”Super Preview
In the Wednesday letter, the representatives said New York Attorney General Letitia James‘ “report reveals that Governor Cuomo and his staff recklessly and knowingly underreported the number of nursing home deaths that occurred after his March Executive Order requiring nursing homes to accept COVID-19 patients.
“As Representatives for New York in the United States Congress, we are grateful to the Department of Justice for launching an independent inquiry last August for which we advocated.
“We are also grateful to New York State Attorney General Letitia James for revealing the veracity of Governor Cuomo’s mismanagement in her recent report, but the people of New York deserve greater transparency, accountability, and ultimately, the truth about the coverup that Governor Cuomo’s administration engaged in.”
In a statement Wednesday, Reed urged the new administration to take up an investigation of Cuomo in the name of bipartisanship.
“Thousands of New York families who lost a parent or grandparent due to New York’s disastrous nursing home policies deserve nothing less than full transparency and accountability,” Reed said.
“If the Biden administration and their Department of Justice are truly committed to following the spirit of independence and impartiality, they should join with us as we work to further uncover the depths of Governor Cuomo and New York State’s incompetence. It is the only remedy to ensuring such horrific public health mistakes never happens again.”
James’ report, issued late last month, criticized the state for its reporting processes and revealed the number of deaths in New York’s nursing homes may have been underreported by up to 50 percent — a major public problem for Cuomo, given that his order to send COVID-positive patients back into long-term care facilities to free up beds in hospitals is now widely seen as akin to throwing a match onto a pile of petrol-soaked kindling.
“Preliminary data obtained by [New York’s Office of the Attorney General] suggests that many nursing home residents died from COVID-19 in hospitals after being transferred from their nursing homes, which is not reflected in [the New York Department of Health] published total nursing home death data,” a statement from James’ office read, according to CNN.
“Preliminary data also reflects apparent underreporting to DOH by some nursing homes of resident deaths occurring in nursing homes.”
For instance: “A facility reported five confirmed and six presumed COVID-19 deaths at the facility as of August 3 to DOH. However, the facility reported to OAG a total of 27 COVID-19 deaths at the facility and 13 hospital deaths — a discrepancy of 29 deaths,” the report read.
“OAG is investigating those circumstances where the discrepancies cannot reasonably be accounted for by error or the difference in the question posed.”
This had been widely suspected since an Associated Press report last summer — and could have been reasonably inferred otherwise, given New York was the only state with a major first-wave outbreak that didn’t count hospital COVID-19 deaths toward its nursing home total.
However, the scathing tone of the James report drove home how dire the situation was, considering New York’s attorney general is a Democrat who was, up until the report’s release, an ally of Cuomo’s.
Cuomo confirmed in 2019 he’d be running for a fourth term in 2022, according to Bloomberg.
Last summer, the only way that wouldn’t have looked like a fait accompli is if he weren’t President Joe Biden’s running mate. Not only has the New York governor’s exaggerated Ratso Rizzo act started to grate, but there are also the grave missteps and mendacities laid out in the James report.
So, in typically Cuomoean fashion, one of his spokesmen issued a statement condemning Reed and the other Republican signatories to the letter as part of a “treason caucus” trying to divert attention from the Capitol incursion and their decision not to endorse the Electoral College, according to WIVB.
Because whenever you’re fighting a losing battle, it always helps to accuse your opponents of a crime punishable by death.
This may have sounded horribly tin-eared coming from the office of the same governor who said, “Who cares?” when confronted about the nursing home data during one of his interminable media briefings last week. It also turned out to be counterfactual, too.
Reed, as it turned out, voted to uphold the electoral vote in both states that were challenged by Republicans during the Electoral College certification, according to Ballotpedia. While a majority of the seven New York state Republican representatives voted to overrule it, it was only by a four-three margin.
Speaking solely about Reed, however, he’s also a member of the bipartisan, centrist Problem Solvers Caucus; in any other context, he’d be called a RINO.
For those dubious that a GOP candidate can win statewide in New York, consider that the last Republican governor left office in 2006: George Pataki.
If you’re only familiar with Pataki from his dismal 2016 presidential run, he first won office in 1994 against a liberal Democrat running for his fourth term in the governor’s mansion who had issues defending his record. Furthermore, the incumbent that Pataki toppled — Mario Cuomo, whose son has been mentioned with some frequency over the preceding 20 paragraphs — didn’t have the headwinds of a viral pandemic to deal with.
If Cuomo pere did, I’d venture to guess he would have had the good sense to not send contagious seniors back into nursing homes, fudge the statistics when that ended up being every bit the bad idea it seemed on paper, bully everyone in the press who tried to raise questions about it and then call his electoral opposition the “treason caucus.”