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Cuomo vaccine czar also calling county executives with political questions

Mar 15, 2021 2:30 pm
Amy Brittain and Josh Dawsey report in The Washington Post that Larry Schwartz, the head of the state’s vaccine rollout, has also been calling county executives gauging political support for embattled Governor Andrew Cuomo. One Democratic county executive, who is keeping his name anonymous so far, filed an ethics complaint with the public integrity unit of the state attorney general’s office after a call from Schwartz. “At best, it was inappropriate,” said the executive, “At worst, it was clearly over the ethical line.” The county executive said he feared the Cuomo administration would retaliate against the county’s residents. “I did nothing wrong,” Schwartz said. “I have always conducted myself in a manner commensurate to a high ethical standard.” Arthur Caplan, director of medical ethics at the NYU Grossman School of Medicine, said that having the person helming the state’s vaccine response also calling on purely political questions could lead to officials fearing that vaccine decisions could be based on favoritism. “People do not see calls coming from the governor’s mansion as somebody wearing one hat and then putting on another hat,” he said. “If you are in control of a vital supply of a lifesaving resource like vaccines, you are carrying an enormous amount of implicit clout when you ask for political allegiance. And you shouldn’t be doing that, anyway. The public health goal to maximize the best use of vaccines has nothing to do with any public declaration of political fealty. And it shouldn’t even be implied or hinted at.” But Schwartz does not see a problem. “Nobody indicated that they were uncomfortable or that they did not want to talk to me.” Read more about this story in The Washington Post.
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