Assemblyman Ron Kim said Wednesday he’s received overwhelming support from his colleagues amid his clash with Gov. Andrew Cuomo over the nursing home death toll from COVID-19.
During an appearance on WNYC’s “The Brian Lehrer Show,” the Queens Democrat said he “had a personal conversation” with Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie (D-Bronx).
“He is 150 percent on my side,” Kim said.
“I know that he stands with me.”
Kim — who on Wednesday accused Cuomo of threatening him during a phone call last week — also said he’s had “endless colleagues issuing statements, calling me, letting me know the same kind of threats they have experienced.”
“We are a co-equal branch of the government and we can’t be kept from doing our jobs,” he said.
At one point, a caller to the show claimed conservative interests were behind The Post’s exclusive revelation that secretary to the governor Melissa DeRosa privately admitted that Cuomo’s administration hid the true number of nursing home deaths from legislators for fear that federal prosecutors would use it “against us.”
Kim noted that the story had been picked up by other major news outlets and defended the integrity of a Post reporter whom Cuomo singled out for criticism during a Wednesday news conference.
Meanwhile, Kim — whose uncle died in a nursing home in April after suffering symptoms of COVID-19 — accused Cuomo of giving nursing homes a “get out of jail free card” through a law that granted the facilities and hospitals near-blanket immunity from liability during the pandemic.
He argued that Cuomo, a fellow Democrat, is too “pro-business” when it comes to the owners of nursing homes and hospitals, instead of siding with residents, patients, staffers and their families.
He also linked Cuomo’s position to what he said were $1.25 million in political contributions to the governor and the state Democratic Party and said he’d hired a lawyer following the governor’s call to him last week.
In a prepared statement, Heastie said, “I have always had a great working relationship with Ron since he joined me in the Assembly in 2013.”
“Since I have been Speaker I feel it is my focus and duty to assist and support all members and the constituents they represent,” he added.
The statement followed one from Wednesday in which Heastie said, “Now more than ever everyone involved needs to lower the temperature and work together to move this state forward and get past this pandemic. That should be our focus.”
Cuomo’s office didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment, but during his Wednesday news conference, the governor argued that the immunity granted to nursing homes and hospitals was included in a budget bill that was approved by both the state Senate and Assembly.
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