New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) said he learned “humanity” from the deceased Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA), who pleaded guilty in 1969 after he left the scene of an accident that resulted in a woman drowning.
Cuomo received the Edward M. Kennedy Institute Aware for Inspired Leadership, he announced Wednesday:
I am honored to receive the 2020 Edward M. Kennedy Institute Award for Inspired Leadership.
I learned about humanity, leadership and putting people first from the great Senator Ted Kennedy.
Congratulations to my fellow recipient Gov. Charlie Baker.
— Andrew Cuomo (@NYGovCuomo) December 10, 2020
“I learned about humanity, leadership, and putting people first from the great Senator Ted Kennedy,” Cuomo wrote on Twitter.
In 1969, Kennedy was driving a car and Mary Jo Kopechne, a staffer for Robert F. Kennedy, was riding as his passenger.
Kennedy drove off a bridge near Chappaquiddick on Martha’s Vineyard. Kennedy swam to safety, leaving Kopechne to die. He did not report the accident until the following morning.
The pair had been at a party, along with Kennedy’s cousin, Joseph Gargan, and former U.S. Attorney for Massachusetts Paul Markham.
“Gargan and Markham not only failed to get immediate help, but also let the senator swim back alone to report the accident from Edgartown,” Gwen Kopechne, Mary Jo’s mother, said, Smithsonian magazine reported.
“This is the big hurt, the nightmare we have to live with for the rest of our lives: that Mary Jo was left in the water for nine hours. She didn’t belong there,” she said.
Kennedy pleaded guilty to leaving the scene of an accident.
The “Inspired Leadership” honor came from Cuomo’s efforts to control residents through coronavirus mandates.
“You try the best you can with communication and then you have to set — you know, leadership is sometimes doing what’s unpopular, and setting restrictions for society that you know are in their best interest even though they are not popular,” Cuomo said.
“And they are not popular right now. You know, people want to be able to go to a restaurant, want to be able to go to a bar, and this is the season. But leadership is doing what’s hard when it’s right, and that’s part of the function also.”
“I miss Senator Ted Kennedy. I miss his leadership; I miss his spirit; I miss his personality,” Cuomo said Wednesday night during the awards ceremony.
“I miss his record of accomplishments; I miss his laugh; I miss his personal touch, the charisma, and the inspiration. The inspiration. He was inspirational as a government leader. And God bless everyone involved in the institute for keeping that alive. He was one of the greats. The greats. And a role model for many of us. I know for me,” he said.