Press secretary Will Burns, who has been working with Cuomo’s administration for nearly three years, announced this week that he was planning to step down and leave the executive chamber.
The move came the same day that longtime aide Gareth Rhodes announced that he would be stepping away from the COVID-19 task force that he has been presiding over since the pandemic began last year.
No less than six high-ranking members of Cuomo’s administration have stepped away in recent months as the governor contends with scandals involving COVID-19 deaths in nursing homes and multiple sexual harassment claims.
Rhodes’ announcement that he was leaving the COVID-19 Task Force to return to his position as deputy supervisor and special counsel at the Department of Financial Services came the day after his wife, Alexa Kissinger, offered public support for Anna Ruch, one of Cuomo’s accusers.
“I didn’t have a choice in his physical dominance over me at that moment. And that’s what infuriates me,” she tweeted on Monday, March 1. “I’m so proud of Anna for sharing her story. This pattern of behavior is completely unacceptable.”
In a statement on Rhodes’ departure from the Task Force, Rich Azzopardi, a senior advisor to Cuomo, said that it was part of the plan all along, while Burns is leaving to pursue his law degree.
“Gareth graciously agreed to temporarily put aside his duties at the Department of Financial Services and join the Task Force, in which he worked night and day for a year, and is now returning to his normal duties in the administration,” he said.
“Will informed us he intends to attend law school next year and is seeking another position in the administration while he prepares for the LSATs.”
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