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Governor-in-waiting Kathy Hochul on Wednesday vowed to clean house of staff and officials who were implicated in the state attorney general’s probe of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s alleged sexual harassment of multiple women.
“No one who was named as doing anything unethical in my report will remain in my administration,” Hochul said during a press briefing in Albany.
Asked about the hostile and toxic work environment in the Executive Chamber under Cuomo, the lieutenant governor predicted there will be a considerable amount of staff “turnover.”
“There’ll be turnover, they’ll be turnover,” she told reporters during her first public appearance since Cuomo said he’ll step aside.
“No one will describe my administration as a toxic work environment,” she declared.
Hochul, who will become the first woman to lead New York state, will take over in 13 days, Cuomo said Tuesday afternoon as he announced his resignation over the scandal.
Meanwhile, the top state Senate Republican on Wednesday urged officials chosen by the scandal-scarred outgoing governor to pack their bags and allow Hochul to run Albany’s machinery with a “clean slate.”
Senate Minority Leader Robert Ortt, a Republican, said it’s important that Hochul be able to run the Empire State’s bureaucracy without officials who are “besmirched and compromised” by Cuomo’s scandal.
“She deserves the opportunity to confront these challenges with a clean slate, and with the support of individuals who are not besmirched and compromised by ties to this dark, corrupt chapter in our state’s history,” he said in a statement Wednesday afternoon.
“I am calling for the immediate resignation of state agency officials with direct ties to the soon-to-be former Governor and the many scandals that have plagued state government,” he added. “Close Cuomo allies like Department of Health Commissioner Howard Zucker and Superintendent of the New York State Department of Financial Services Linda Lacewell directly aided Andrew Cuomo’s misdeeds and have forfeited the right to serve the people of New York.”
Ortt declared that those partly responsible for the nursing home COVID-19 cover-up and who turned a blind eye to and abetted Cuomo’s documented serial, illegal sexual harassment should step down “immediately” or be booted by Hochul.
“To ensure a fresh start for New Yorkers, these individuals should resign immediately or be removed from the state payroll by the incoming governor,” said the lawmaker.
On Tuesday, Cuomo’s resignation prompted some lawmakers and political stakeholders to urge the incoming governor to oust his loyalists.
“Hochul needs to get rid of the enablers of Cuomo’s toxic culture and anyone who helped him cover up COVID nursing home deaths. They must be held accountable,” said Assemblyman Ron Kim (D-Queens), one of the most outspoken Cuomo critics.
“There’s a significant network of Cuomo enforcers and enablers,” he previously added. “She knows who they are.”
John Samuelsen, president of the Transportation Workers Union, said Hochul should expel members of the MTA board whom Cuomo picked.
“They have been absolutely destructive to the board,” he said, calling the current governor’s appointees the “Cuomo cabal.”
Cuomo said Tuesday that he is resigning, effective in 14 days, in the aftermath of Attorney General Letitia James’ probe that found he sexually harassed 11 women, including nine current and former staffers.
Additional reporting by Carl Campanile
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