Goodell backs Queens Dem in dispute with Gov.

Assemblyman Andrew Goodell, R-Jamestown, is pictured, right, during an Empire State Poverty Reduction Initiative task force hearing hosted by the state Assembly in Buffalo in 2019. OBSERVER File Photo

Andrew Goodell spends more time than any other Assembly member debating legislation.

Often, Goodell is debating with Assemblyman Ron Kim, D-Queens, on a variety of legislation. On Thursday, the Jamestown Republican and Assembly minority whip supported Kim in his ongoing battle with Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Kim said Cuomo had vowed to “destroy” him during a private phone call last week for criticism the governor felt was unfair. Cuomo denied the allegation, then used a call with reporters Wednesday to blast Kim, one of nine Democrats who signed a letter seeking support for the proposal to limit his emergency powers, which are set to expire this spring.

“Although I have debated with you more than any other member of the Assembly on various policy issues, I have never doubted your sincerity, honesty or integrity,” Goodell wrote in a letter to Kim. “Your comments on the floor of the Assembly have always been thoughtful, straightforward and truthful. There has never been any question about the veracity or accuracy of your statements, or the quality of your character.”

Kim told The New York Times and CNN on Wednesday that Cuomo called him on the phone Feb. 11 to shout at him about his comments on the nursing home issue.

FILE - In this June 8, 2020, file photo, Assemblyman Ron Kim, D-Queens, speaks during a press briefing at the state Capitol in Albany, N.Y. Kim says Gov. Andrew Cuomo vowed to "destroy" him, during a private phone call last week for criticizing his handling of COVID-19 outbreaks at nursing homes. (AP Photo/Hans Pennink, File)

“He goes off about how I hadn’t seen his wrath and anger, that he would destroy me and he would go out tomorrow and start telling how bad of a person I am and I would be finished and how he had bit his tongue about me for months,” Kim told The New York Times, as reported by the Associated Press. “This was all yelling. It wasn’t a pleasant tone.”

The governor said it’s a “lie” that he obstructed justice, and told reporters Wednesday that he had a “long hostile relationship” with Kim. The governor accused Kim of being “unethical” for backing nail salon owners as lawmakers discussed safety and wage reforms of the industry in 2015. Kim had initially supported the reforms, but later opposed some of them after getting support from salon owners.

“Mr. Kim is lying about his conversation with Governor Cuomo Thursday night,” said Rich Azzopoardi, a spokesperson for Cuomo in a news release Wednesday. “I know because I was one of three other people in the room when the phone call occurred. At no time did anyone threaten to ‘destroy’ anyone with their ‘wrath’ nor engage in a ‘coverup.’ That’s beyond the pale and is unfortunately part of a years-long pattern of lies by Mr. Kim against this administration. We did ask for Mr. Kim to do the honorable thing and put out a truthful statement after he told the Governor he was misquoted in a news article, which he said he tried to correct but the reporter refused. Kim said he would correct the story and then broke his word. No surprise. Instead over the last six days he has baselessly accused this administration of pay to play and obstruction of justice. These continued falsehoods are why the Governor chose to speak out today. We will not allow an unscrupulous politician to deceive New Yorkers or distort the truth.”

Kim’s story prompted sympathy from other Democrats, including New City Mayor Bill de Blasio, while Deputy Senate Leader Michael Gianaris and Democratic state Sen. Alesssandra Biaggi.

Goodell echoed sentiments raised by other legislators over the past few days in his letter.

“It is absolutely outrageous that any member of the Assembly would be threatened, publicly attacked or subjected to intimidation by the governor or top members of his staff,” Goodell wrote. “I hope and trust that your colleagues and your conference leadership provide you and the other members of the Assembly with strong support during this difficult time. You certainly have my personal support.”


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