Vaccine Czar Larry Schwartz Under Fire For Calling County Executives To Gauge Support For Embattled GovernorBy Marcia Kramer

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Gov. Andrew Cuomo may be in more hot water after new, graphic details emerged from accusers describing their alleged inappropriate encounters with him.

Accuser Charlotte Bennett met with investigators for four hours, and officials are critical of an aide who called county executives looking for support.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s former aide Charlotte Bennett spoke to CBS Evening News anchor Norah O’Donnell about her allegations against the governor. (Credit: CBS)

As CBS2’s Marcia Kramer reports, Bennet has been one of Cuomo’s most vocal accusers. According to her attorney, she met with investigators and provided them with more than 120 pages of records and documents to corroborate her allegations that Cuomo was grooming her for a sexual liaison.

Bennett’s lawyer Deborah Katz issued a statement saying, “We remain confident that their investigation will substantiate Charlotte’s claims of sexual harassment against Gov. Cuomo… One piece of piece of new information that came to light today was the governor’s preoccupation with his hand size and what the large size of his hands indicated to Charlotte and other members of his staff.”

Bennett wasn’t the only accuser speaking out.

“Governor Cuomo used flirting as a way to bring a woman employee into the fold,” former aide Karen Hinton told WNYC radio.

Hinton described what she called an inappropriate hug by Cuomo.

“He approached me, embraced me too tightly, too long and was aroused,” Hinton said. “And I felt extremely uncomfortable and actually shocked by it.”

“The governor is in crisis, and his crisis has become a distraction to the whole state,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said. “Governor Cuomo should do everyone a favor and get the hell out of the way, because it’s just not going to make it any better for him to stick around.”

The mayor said Monday he hasn’t personally talked to Cuomo in weeks.

WATCH: Mayor De Blasio Continues To Call For Gov. Cuomo’s Resignation

While seven women have accused Cuomo of sexual harassment or inappropriate behavior – allegations the governor denies — the mayor focused on the crisis du jour: Claims that one of the governors top aides, COVID vaccine czar Larry Schwartz, called county executives to gauge their support.

“What we’ve heard 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. “There are lives on the line, and it cannot be tolerated.”

TIMELINE: New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo Under Investigation For Nursing Home Deaths, Sexual Harassment Allegations

The mayor wants a new investigation into “Schwartz-gate.” But for his part, Larry Schwartz said he “did nothing wrong,” that the calls were separate from his role in the vaccine effort.

Acting counsel to Cuomo Beth Garvey released the following statement about Schwartz:

Vaccine distribution in New York is based on objective criteria to ensure it matches eligible populations, ensure equity, and ability to rapidly administer shots in arms. To be clear, Larry’s conversations did not bring up vaccine distribution — he would never link political support to public health decisions.  Distorting Larry’s role or intentions for headlines maligns a decades long public servant who has done nothing but volunteer around the clock since March to help New York get through the COVID pandemic. Any suggestion that Larry acted in any way unethically or in any way other than in the best interest of the New Yorkers that he selflessly served is patently false.

Westchester County Executive George Latimer described the call he got from Schwartz.

“He made no effort to influence me or threaten me,” Latimer said. “I personally did not find his outreach unreasonable given our long-term friendship and our working relationship.”

Gov. Cuomo made a public appearance at SUNY Westbury on Long Island Monday. Members of the press were not permitted to attend.

“Sometimes God comes and he knocks you on your rear end for one reason or another,” Cuomo said.

Voters in a new Siena College poll (margin plus or minus 4.1%) simply don’t agree with the clarion call for Cuomo’s resignation from almost every corner of the political world.

The poll finds:

  • By a margin of 50% to 35% they say Cuomo should not resign
  • By 48% to 34% they say he can effectively do his job as governor despite the investigations
  • By 57% to 32% voters are satisfied with the way the governor has addressed the allegations

Voters are also satisfied with the way he has handled the pandemic – but  when it comes to making nursing home death statistics public, he got a negative grade of 27% to 66%

The positive feeling of some supporters was on full display at a vaccine clinic at the state university at Westbury.

MORE: Cuomo Says He Will Not Resign As Sens. Schumer, Gillibrand, Reps. Nadler, Ocasio-Cortez And More Call For Him To Step Down

“So governor I thank you for being here. You stay, continue to lead us through this crisis because we need you,” said Tracy Edwards, head of the NAACP on Long Island.

WATCH: Gov. Cuomo Visits COVID Vaccination Site On Long Island

While voters don’t want the governor to quit, they also don’t want him to run again. Only about a third said they would support a fourth term.

Meanwhile over the weekend, both U.S. Senators for New York Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand continued their call for a resignation. However, President Joe Biden and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi stopped short of calling on Cuomo to resign, instead waiting for the outcome of the attorney general investigation.

“The governor should look inside his heart — he loves New York — to see if he can govern effectively,” Pelosi said on ABC This Week.

The attorney general investigation could take up to a few months to complete.

CBS2’s John Dias and Dick Brennan contributed to this report. 

Marcia Kramer