Report: State ethics commission investigating ‘vaccine czar’ calls to Democrat county executives

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — New York’s ethics oversight agency, the Joint Commission on Public Ethics (JCOPE) is investigating calls made by Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s “vaccine czar” earlier this year.

That’s according to The Times Union of Albany.

The calls were made in March of 2021 by Larry Schwartz, one of Cuomo’s most trusted advisors. At the time several outlets, including The Washington Post and The New York Times, reported Schwartz called Democratic county executives with the intention of gauging their loyalty to Cuomo amid a sexual harassment investigation.

Monroe County Executive Adam Bello told News10NBC at the time that he did receive a call from a longtime adviser to Cuomo, but says he did not feel any pressure, and that vaccines were never brought up.

Another, unnamed, county executive told The Post at the time that they filed a notice of an impending ethics complaint with the state attorney general’s office over concerns that their county’s vaccine supply would suffer if Schwartz did not feel they were supportive of Cuomo.

Schwartz stepped down from his position as “vaccine czar” in late April.

Now, The Times Union is reporting that a JCOPE investigator is calling Democratic county executives to set up fact-finding interviews concerning their interactions with Schwartz.

Schwartz and Cuomo’s offices did not immediately respond to requests for comment.