Senator Michael Martucci will be talking to his colleagues on both sides of the aisle today to press for the appointment of former U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara as a special prosecutor to investigate what he called "criminal acts" concerning a "cover-up" by the Cuomo Administration regarding full disclosure of the number of fatalities in the state's nursing homes from Covid-19.
Martucci is taking the action in response to a story in the New York Post yesterday. The article reported that Secretary to the Governor Melissa DeRosa privately apologized to Democratic lawmakers during a Zoom call for withholding the state’s nursing home death toll from COVID-19 — telling them “we froze” out of fear that the true numbers would “be used against us” by federal prosecutors..."
Speaking with reporters on a conference call today, Martucci said Bharara was uniquely qualified, adding "I'm hopeful he'll answer the call."
Martucci noted that Bharara has never shied away from taking down powerful politicians of both major parties, including former Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos and former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, who were both convicted in separate corruption cases. "No one has the guts that Preet Bharara," Martucci said.
Just before the press call, DeRosa released the following statement regarding comments made during a Zoom conference call with state legislators:
"I was explaining that when we received the DOJ inquiry, we needed to temporarily set aside the Legislature's request to deal with the federal request first. We informed the houses of this at the time. We were comprehensive and transparent in our responses to the DOJ, and then had to immediately focus our resources on the second wave and vaccine rollout. As I said on a call with legislators, we could not fulfill their request as quickly as anyone would have liked. But we are committed to being better partners going forward as we share the same goal of keeping New Yorkers as healthy as possible during the pandemic."
Martucci told The SullivanTimes that he did not have a chance to see the statement but maintained that DeRosa is "backpedaling."
"I think the tape of the transcript speaks for itself," the freshman Senator said. "There's absolutely not a shred of doubt that there was a coverup. She lied this entire time. We have serious questions with respect to the integrity of her statement now. We're long past their opportunity (for DeRosa) to explain this."
"We don't need to ask if there was cover-up," Martucci said. "Melissa DeRosa is on tape telling us there is one. What we need now is answers."
Martucci likened the situation to Watergate."What did Governor Cuomo and Dr. Zucker (the state's health commissioner) know and when did they know it?
Martucci said he was also working with a bipartisan group of legislators to reign in Cuomo's executive powers.
"We need a special (Legislative) session to eliminate the Governor's special powers," he said.