Andrew Cuomo‘s top aide Melissa DeRosa ‘screamed’ at and ‘bullied’ Rep. Elise Stefanik over her opposition to the governor’s plan to shift ventilators from less hard-hit areas of the state to New York City last year, according to a report.
A source told the New York Post DeRosa, 38, called the Republican congresswoman, 36, on her personal cellphone ‘furious’ to get her to walk back her comments about Cuomo’s executive order.
Stefanik reportedly refused and the two women haven’t spoken since.
The incident marked the final nail in the coffin in the two women’s 20-year friendship that began when they both attended elite prep school Albany Academy for Girls in upstate New York and had – up until then – survived their opposing political paths.
De Rosa, who works as secretary to the governor and is a member of his COVID-19 taskforce, has found herself increasingly drawn into the scandal surrounding Cuomo in recent months.
DeRosa was said to have been among the small inner circle of aides in the governor’s office responsible for attempts to smear an ex-staffer who has accused the governor of sexual harassment.
And, back in February, it was DeRosa who made the bombshell confession that the state had withheld the damning data on the number of COVID-19 deaths in New York nursing homes from the Trump administration.
Andrew Cuomo’s top aide Melissa DeRosa (left) ‘screamed’ at and ‘bullied’ Rep. Elise Stefanik (right) over her opposition to the governor’s plan to shift ventilators from less hard-hit areas of the state to New York City last year, according to a report
Stefanik and DeRosa in happier times in 2015. The two women have been friends for 20 years before things soured last year
Last April, New York City became the virus epicenter of the world, hospitals were on the brink of collapse and bodies were piling up in refrigerated trucks in the streets of the city.
Cuomo announced in an executive order that he could seize life-saving medical equipment – predominantly ventilators that were in short supply – from areas less hard-hit and send them to hospitals most in need.
‘I’m going to sign an executive order that says the state can take ventilators and personal protective equipment from institutions that don’t need them now and redeploy them,’ Cuomo said at the time.
The announcement sparked an instant backlash from some state and federal New York lawmakers, with Stefanik leading the revolt.
She publicly hit out at the plan calling it a ‘grave concern to the hospitals in my district’ saying it could leave the most vulnerable areas without when cases rises in those areas.
Stefanik, a Republican, represents New York’s 21st congressional district in Glen Falls, which is home to the state’s highest percentage of seniors of any congressional district.
Despite DeRosa’s phone call, Stefanik refused to walk back her comments.
Cuomo later abandoned his plan for ventilators but the damage was already done to the two women’s longtime friendship.
Since then, the feud has escalated and they have exchanged barbs with each other in public ever since.
Following the January 6 MAGA mob riot where Donald Trump supporters stormed the Capitol in a violent insurrection that left five dead, calls mounted for Stefanik’s resignation.
Last April, Cuomo said he would seize life-saving medical equipment from areas less hard-hit and send them to hospitals most in need in NYC. This sparked a backlash from some lawmakers, with Stefanik leading the revolt
Last April New York City was the virus epicenter of the world. A nurse treats a COVID-19 patient at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Manhattan last April
Workers move bodies into refrigerated trucks in Brooklyn last April as funeral homes and hospitals struggled to cope with the death rates
The lawmaker was among the Republicans who objected to the electoral college results being certified in favor of Joe Biden – despite multiple lawsuits, probes and a DOJ investigation finding no evidence of Trump’s false claims that the election was ‘stolen.’
This led to a spat between the two women on Twitter with Stefanik making a thinly-veiled jibe at DeRosa and Cuomo’s office while DeRosa accused her of being ‘complicit’ in the attempt to overthrow the government.
‘The Worst Governor in America cowardly sends out his own NY Dem State Party Chair, top advisors, and spokespeople who publicly call for my resignation. And then they cowardly try to walk it back,’ Stefanik wrote on January 8.
‘Worst Governor in America. He and his team earn this title every single day.’
DeRosa fired back heaping the blame for the five deaths onto her foe.
‘Let’s all say it together now: @EliseStefanik was complicit in an attempt to overthrow the US government,’ she wrote.
‘The effort resulted in 5 deaths, including a law enforcement officer. No amount of deflection changes these facts.’
The next month, the tensions mounted further when DeRosa found herself at the center of the state’s apparent cover-up of nursing home COVID-19 deaths.
Stefanik called DeRosa’s damning phone call where she admitted the state withheld data on the true number of deaths a ‘bombshell admission of a coverup’ and called for her and Cuomo to be prosecuted.
The feud has escalated with DeRosa accusing Stefanik of being ‘complicit’ in the MAGA mob riot at the US Capitol in January
Stefanik called for DeRosa and Cuomo to be prosecuted over the COVID-19 nursing home death scandal after the aide admitted withholding data
‘Governor Cuomo, the Secretary to the Governor, and his senior team must be prosecuted immediately – both by the Attorney General of New York State and the U.S. Department of Justice,’ Stefanik said in a statement.
‘This bombshell admission of a coverup and the remarks by the Secretary to the Governor indicating intent to obstruct any federal investigation is a stunning and criminal abuse of power.
‘I have said from the beginning that this is more than a nursing home scandal, this is a massive corruption and coverup scandal at the highest level of New York State Government implicating the Governor, the Secretary to the Governor, the New York State Health Commissioner and the Governor’s staff.’
Cuomo’s top aide had admitted in a call with Democratic state legislators that officials ‘froze’ in August when then-President Donald Trump‘s Department of Justice asked for data on the number of nursing home residents who died from the virus.
DeRosa said on the call that the state then hid the damning data and rebuffed the request.
‘We were in a position where we weren’t sure if what we were going to give to the Department of Justice, or what we give to you guys, what we start saying, was going to be used against us while we weren’t sure if there was going to be an investigation,’ she said.
Just one year before the pandemic hit, DeRosa heaped praise on her ‘little sister’
DeRosa then walked back her claims insisting the state was ‘comprehensive and transparent’ with the DOJ.
Her comments came just two weeks after the New York State Attorney General Letitia James revealed Cuomo’s office had grossly downplayed the number of nursing home deaths by around 50 percent.
It was then claimed that DeRosa and other top officials successfully pushed state health officials to alter the death data in a report before it was released to the public in July.
An original version of the report said almost 10,000 nursing home residents died, they said.
The final version released to the public put the figure at 6,432.
A separate federal probe is now looking into the state’s handling of COVID-19 in nursing homes and the release of the data.
The public spat is a marked turnaround for the two women who have previously spoken highly of their enduring friendship.
They first met at Albany Academy for Girls where they both got a flavor for a career in politics serving on the student council.
They stayed in touch despite their political differences, with Stefanik this week being appointed the number three Republican in the House of Representatives and DeRosa being a Democrat and working for a high-profile Democrat governor.
DeRosa pictured with Cuomo in 2017. She has found herself increasingly drawn into the scandal surrounding Cuomo in recent months
When Stefanik got married in 2017, her friend DeRosa was at the wedding.
Just one year before the pandemic hit, DeRosa heaped praise on her ‘little sister’.
‘We may not agree on everything, but I will never stop being in awe of my little sister and middle school student council running-mate, @EliseStefanik. Nothing but class,’ she tweeted in January 2019.
Stefanik replied with a kiss face emoji, writing: ‘Thx Missy!’
According to writer Charlotte Alter, DeRosa spoke very highly of Stefanik around that time.
‘”There have been times over the years when I have called her, practically in tears, saying, ‘This just happened, I feel so beaten down, I don’t know what to do anymore,’” DeRosa told me,’ tweeted Alter this week.
‘“And she is so morally supportive and will be there to coach through whatever the issue is.”’
A mother of a former classmate of the two former friends told the Post she found it ‘sad’ that their relationship had soured.
‘Of course, it’s sad. This goes to their positions in life and their livelihoods,’ said Leah Aronowitz.
The two women were friends after they both attended elite prep school Albany Academy for Girls in upstate New York
‘They’re from two very different ends of the political spectrum and politics has become very nasty.’
DailyMail.com has reached out to Cuomo’s office and Stefanik’s office for comment.
Cuomo’s office told the Post ‘Stefanik politicized a pandemic and showed the world she didn’t give a damn about saving the lives of New Yorkers.’
While Stefanik’s office hit out at the various scandals involving Cuomo and called for him ‘and his top aides’ to ‘be prosecuted.’
Cuomo is under investigation by the state AG’s office over allegations of sexual harassment, sexual misconduct and inappropriate behavior.
At least nine women have come forward with accusations including three former and two current aides in his office.
The governor has repeatedly denied the allegations saying he ‘never touched anyone inappropriately’ and ‘never made any inappropriate advances’ but has apologized for making anyone feel ‘uncomfortable.’
The governor is also being investigated over claims he covered up COVID-19 deaths in the state’s nursing homes.