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Doctor who helped Cuomo family jump the line for COVID-19 tests worked for health commissioner’s state funded non-profit

Bradley Stein, DCNF

The doctor tasked with administering COVID-19 tests to Democratic New York Gov. Andrew’s family last year worked for a nonprofit run by Cuomo’s health commissioner, the New York Post reported Monday.

Dr. Eleanor Adams made multiple trips to the homes of various Cuomo family members, including Cuomo’s brother CNN anchor Chris Cuomo’s Hamptons home and his mother, Matilda Cuomo’s personal residence, according to the Post.

Adams was not paid by the State of New York at the time, however the Department of Health claimed she was paid an unspecified salary by Health Research Inc., a nonprofit that listed New York State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker as its president, according to the Post.

According to tax returns obtained by the Daily Caller News Foundation, Health Research Inc. received nearly $760 million in federal and state funding in 2019 and paid Zucker $65,927 for just two hours of work per week. Zucker also earned an additional $9,098 in “compensation for related organizations,” bringing his total salary with HRI to $75,025 in addition to the $136,000 he earned as Health Commissioner for that year.

Adams, a Harvard trained and board-certified preventive medicine physician, has listed her occupation as a special adviser to Zucker on her LinkedIn profile despite not being an official salaried New York Department of Health employee, according to the Post.

“Here you have a very high-ranking public health official — the top person next to Commissioner Zucker — and yet her existence is not in the public record. It’s operating in this gray area, which is never good when it comes to state government,” said Bill Hammond, senior fellow for health policy at the Empire Center think tank, in a statement to the Post.

Hammond also stated that HRI “kind of verges on being a slush fund because the legislature doesn’t determine how funding is spent or used, and the public also can’t see what it’s spending money on — and that makes it ripe for abuse.”

Adams also took part in writing a study on COVID-19 deaths in nursing homes that was rewritten by the governor’s top aides to underreport the total number of nursing home deaths from COVID-19, according to the New York Times.

Republican New York Assemblyman Kieran Lalor slammed the Cuomo administration for exploiting loopholes to allow family members of the Governor to be prioritized over everyday New Yorkers in a private message to the DCNF.

“It is no surprise that the Cuomo administration exploited loopholes and subverted the spirit of the very transparency laws the governor claims to support. Equally unsurprising is that the covert operation to put Cuomo family members and cronies at the head of the Covid testing line was conducted by someone the public was unlikely to know about” wrote Lalor.

Zucker, who has been on HRI’s payroll since 2015, has previously failed to report his additional income to the state Joint Commission on Public Ethics, according to the Post.

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