We haven’t heard much Gov. Andrew Cuomo over the past few weeks as the governor’s strategy of accelerating the reopening of the Empire State to help distract from the numerous scandals he faced earlier this year (from concealing the death toll from the state’s nursing homes, to allegedly harassing at least nine women, including vulnerable young female staffers) has apparently succeeded.
But with NYC set to reopen “100%” on July 1 (according to Cuomo’s political arch-rival, Mayor Bill de Blasio), an Albany reporter with NY focused politics outlet State of Politics reports that Cuomo’s Communications Director, Peter Ajemian, has abruptly quit and Friday will be his last day with the governor.
— Morgan Mckay (@morganfmckay) May 7, 2021
Notably, the resignation comes as investigations by state lawmakers, New York’s Attorney General and the DoJ into everything from the sexual harassment allegations to Cuomo’s under-reporting of COVID nursing home deaths continue.
In his place, Cuomo will add to the duties of senior advisor Rich Azzopardi, the governor’s attack dog/alter-ego who has featured prominently in the press coverage of the governor’s scandals as of late. Many of the most aggressive statements pushing back against Cuomo’s accusers have been attributed to Azzopardi.
“After nearly four years, and with this year’s budget done and vaccine eligibility open to everyone, I decided now is the time to pursue opportunities in the private sector,” Ajemian said in a statement. “I’m grateful to the governor for giving me the chance to serve. It’s been the honor of a lifetime to be part of a team working for New Yorkers in a period of unprecedented crisis and seeing the government work for the people and people work for each other.”
“Peter has spent nearly four years in the administration taking on the hard challenges during even harder circumstances,” Azzopardi said in a statement. “There’s nobody I’d rather be in the trenches with and know he’ll always be a part of Team Cuomo.”
Notably, Azzopardi caught some flack of his own in the local Empire State press during the backlash to coverup of nursing home deaths after he slammed families of those who died in the nursing homes – and who were now attacking Cuomo for not doing enough to prevent these deadly outbreaks – as members of a “death cult”.
As if the Cuomo Administration couldn’t sink any lower, they appoint @RichAzzopardi as communications director.
He called us grieving families a “death cult” and told a grieving daughter to “get a life”. pic.twitter.com/7NpWuMisXE
— VoicesForSeniors (@Voices4Seniors) May 7, 2021
Jennifer Givner has been appointed acting press secretary. She also serves as director of media relations and communications for the New York State Thruway Authority. And Haley Viccaro has been appointed deputy communications director for energy and the environment. Viccaro just recently left her position as communications director for Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul to cross over to Cuomo’s administration.
At least nine other former aides have left the administration as the pressure on Cuomo to resign intensified over the past few months. They include Gareth Rhodes, who was part of Cuomo’s COVID-19 task force, Caitlin Girouard, Cuomo’s press secretary and most recently, Jack Sterne, a Cuomo spokesman.
Via Zero Hedge