Rep. Elise Stefanik got a call on her personal cellphone last year, shortly after speaking out against Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s plan to seize ventilators from upstate hospitals in the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.
On the line was the congresswoman’s longtime pal, top Cuomo aide Melissa DeRosa — and she was furious.DeRosa “screamed” at and “bullied” Stefanik (R-Glens Falls) in an effort to make her to walk back her opposition to Cuomo’s executive order, which would have shifted the life-saving medical equipment to hard-hit New York City and the surrounding area, a source told The Post.
But Stefanik — whose upstate congressional district has the largest population of highly vulnerable seniors in the state — wouldn’t relent.
The two women haven’t spoken since.
The April 2020 incident marked the end of a friendship forged more than 20 years ago, when Stefanik, 36, and DeRosa, 38, attended Albany Academy for Girls, a private school where they both served on the student council.
Despite diverging politically — Stefanik just became the No. 3 Republican in the House of Representatives, while DeRosa is a Democrat, like her boss — the relationship endured as they thrived in their respective careers, with DeRosa among the guests at Stefanik’s 2017 wedding.
As recently as 2019, DeRosa described Stefanik as a rock-steady friend who was always there for her when DeRosa was would call, “practically in tears,” for advice, writer Charlotte Alter tweeted this week.
“And she is so morally supportive and will be there to coach through whatever the issue is,” DeRosa added, according to Alter.
Also that year, DeRosa tweeted that she and Stefanik “may not agree on everything, but I will never stop being in awe of my little sister and middle school student council running-mate…Nothing but class.”
Stefanik — who was re-elected in November — tweeted back, “Thx Missy!” along with a kissy-face emoji.
But since their fight over Cuomo’s ventilator plan — which he later abandoned — the feud has gone public, with DeRosa accusing Stefanik of being “complicit in an attempt to overthrow the US government” during the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol by supporters of then-President Donald Trump.
“The effort resulted in 5 deaths, including a law enforcement officer. No amount of deflection changes these facts,” DeRosa added.
The following month, Stefanik fired back when The Post exclusively revealed how DeRosa privately told Democratic lawmakers that Cuomo’s administration covered up the total number of nursing home deaths from COVID-19.
Stefanik tweeted that DeRosa’s recorded remarks were “bombshell admission” of a “stunning and criminal abuse of power” and said they implicated DeRosa in a “massive corruption and coverup scandal at the highest level of New York State Government.”
Leah Aronowitz — whose daughter, Suzanne Cross, was a classmate of both women — said of the fractured friendship, “Of course, it’s sad.”
“This goes to their positions in life and their livelihoods,” Aronowitz said.
“They’re from two very different ends of the political spectrum and politics has become very nasty.”
A request for comment from DeRosa was answered by Cuomo spokesman Rich Azzopardi, who said, “Stefanik politicized a pandemic and showed the world she didn’t give a damn about saving the lives of New Yorkers.”
Stefanik’s senior advisor, Alex DeGrasse, responded with a lengthy statement outlining the various scandals engulfing Cuomo and saying that he “and his top aides should be prosecuted.”
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