After nearly four years on the job, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s communications director Peter Ajemian announced his resignation in the office and will be replaced by longtime chief adviser Rich Azzopardi, who will be working double duty as Cuomo’s current senior advisor and spokesman. Ajemian had taken over Cuomo’s communications department in August 2020 from longtime aide Dani Lever and previously worked for the administration as senior deputy communications director and a deputy communications director for transportation.
Ajemian has been the latest exit from the governor’s administration in recent months including Cuomo’s COVID-19 task force member Gareth Rhodes, former press secretary Caitlin Girouard, and former Cuomo spokesman Jack Sterne. Additional exits include ex-counsel to the governor Kumiki Gibson, press secretary Will Burns, health policy analyst Erin Hammond, and scheduler Sophie Boldison.
Former deputy secretary for legislative affairs and policy Dana Carotenuto has been appointed as Cuomo’s chief of staff and Jennifer Givner, the state Thruway Authority’s current director of media relations and communications, will be acting press secretary. Haley Viccaro will be the state’s deputy communications director for energy and the environment. There have been some new faces in the office as Jordan Bennett, a spokesman for New York University, will be leaving his job to become Cuomo’s new deputy communications director for downstate.
“After nearly four years, and with this year’s budget done and vaccine eligibility open to everyone, I decided now is the time to pursue opportunities in the private sector. I’m grateful to the governor for giving me the chance to serve. It’s been the honor of a lifetime to be part of a team working for New Yorkers in a period of unprecedented crisis and seeing the government work for the people and people work for each other,” Ajemian said.
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Cuomo’s vaccine czar and ex-chief of staff Larry Schwartz was also forced to submit his resignation after the New York Legislature repealed a rule that allowed state ethics law exemption for a coronavirus task force “volunteers.” New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio called for an investigation into Cuomo’s local officials, including Schwartz, who reportedly contacted several executives regarding Cuomo’s political support.
“What we’ve heard is about the governor and his team, trying to link vaccine supply to political support, that is the definition of corruption. It is disgusting. It is dangerous,” de Blasio said.
More staff members are leaving Cuomo’s office as the probe into his alleged sexual misconduct and handling of nursing home patient deaths from COVID-19 continue. Right now, six Republican senators have requested a congressional investigation into Cuomo’s nursing home mandates and institution death toll. They issued a letter to the Senate Finance Committee about the numerous scandals this year, including concealment of the state’s nursing home death toll and allegedly harassing at least nine women, including his young female staffers.
Azzopardi, who will be leading communications, has not had the best reputation with New Yorkers. He previously called grieving nursing home families a “death cult” and even told a grieving daughter to get a life. Even Gov. Cuomo warned state residents the other day to get the jab or kill their grandma.
The threats and empty promises by the Cuomo administration have done enough damage to have New Yorkers fleeing from the state…as if the Cuomo Administration couldn’t sink any lower.