Opinion

Cuomo's karma

New York's governor has been bullying people for 30 years

This is the editor's letter in the The Week magazine.

I have my own Andrew Cuomo story to tell. It's not nearly as horrible as what seven women have said New York's Democratic governor inflicted on them. Mine merely serves as a glimpse of Cuomo's character — a foreshadowing of what was to come. As a Newsday reporter, I wrote a profile in 1991 of Gov. Mario Cuomo's ambitious son, then 33. As a stepping-stone to his own political career, he'd launched a group of homeless shelters that he billed as a breakthrough answer to a serious social problem. Andrew steered allies to me to rave about his brilliance; one compared him to Bobby Kennedy, the father of his then-wife, Kerry. But I also interviewed several public officials who'd gotten in Cuomo's way. They described him as a bully of astonishing arrogance, who'd told them he'd crush them, ruin them, destroy their careers. "If they ever make a movie about Machiavelli," one bruised Democrat told me, "Andrew would be perfect in the role of the prince."

After the profile was published, a resident of one of Cuomo's shelters called me with a tip. Despite the high cost to taxpayers, he said, the shelters did not provide the job training, searches for permanent housing, and other services that Cuomo promised. He and other residents described the shelter as a Potemkin village — pretty on the outside, but riddled with drug dealing, prostitution, and despair. After weeks of reporting, I called Cuomo to discuss what I'd found. He responded with threats and accusations. You bribed those people to give you dirt, he said. Do you know who these homeless people are? "You think you're smart, don't you?" he said. "Well, this isn't over." That was the last I heard from him. Over the years, as I watched Cuomo indulge in childish feuds, intimidate allies and enemies, shut down a corruption investigation, and botch his initial pandemic response, I wondered when karma would finally catch up to him. It almost always does. Character is destiny.

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