Cuomo aide steps down from role as New York’s vaccine czar
Larry Schwartz, a top aide to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D), has stepped down from his role as the state’s COVID-19 vaccine czar, according to multiple reports.
The New York Times reported that his resignation was submitted on Wednesday as the state legislature voted on changes that would have required him to file financial disclosure forms and be subject to a two-year lobbying ban after work for the state.
Cuomo waived the requirements at the beginning of the pandemic so that he could get a broader range of volunteers to help the state.
He told the Times said that he initially wanted to leave his post in May when a significant portion of residents was vaccinated but resigned earlier due to the legislative changes.
In a statement to The Hill, Schwartz said ,”At the request of Governor Cuomo I returned to public service over a year ago as a volunteer to help in the battle against Covid. It started with ensuring the State had enough PPE for front line health care workers, to ventilators and beds for covid hospital patients, to a new contact tracing program to overseeing the administration of the State vaccine program.”
“My plan was always to step down in my volunteer capacity over the next few weeks as we achieved certain milestones. As a lifelong resident, I take pride in helping my fellow New Yorkers,” he continued.
Rich Azzopardi, a senior adviser to Cuomo, said in a separate statement, “Larry volunteered and worked 16-hour days to help manage New York’s pandemic response.”
“Now that our vaccine distribution network is fully established he had been planning to leave in the next few weeks. We are incredibly grateful for his dedication and service to New Yorkers in their greatest time of need,” Azzopardi said.
Schwartz was a senior adviser to Cuomo before becoming secretary to the governor in 2011, according to The New York Daily News. He left the administration in 2015 but currently serves on the Metropolitan Transit Authority.
Schwartz is also the chief strategy officer at OTG, an airport concessions company.
Schwartz recently came under fire after The Washington Post reported that he called county officials to gauge their loyalty to Cuomo as multiple women accused him of sexual harassment and inappropriate behavior, oftentimes in the workplace.
Beth Garvey, acting counsel to the governor, previously told The Hill that Schwartz called a volunteer, but “any suggestion that he acted in any way unethically or in any way other than in the best interest of the New Yorkers that he selflessly served is patently false.”
James’s office is currently investigating the misconduct allegations against Cuomo, and the governor is also the subject of an impeachment investigation amid the accusations and his handling of COVID-19 related deaths in nursing homes.
Since the accusations, several aides to Cuomo have left his administration.
Updated at 9:21 a.m.