NY State Ethics Committee Orders Andrew Cuomo to Refund $5.1 Million from Coronavirus Book Deal

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - JUNE 09: Governor of New York Andrew Cuomo attends the Tribeca Festival Welcome Lunch during the 2021 Tribeca Festival at Pier 76 on June 09, 2021 in New York City. (Photo by Cindy Ord/Getty Images for Tribeca Festival)
Cindy Ord/Getty Images for Tribeca Festival

New York state’s ethics committee on Tuesday ordered former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) to refund his publisher $5.1 million from his book deal on coronavirus leadership.

Cuomo published the book, “American Crisis: Leadership Lessons From the Covid-19 Pandemic,” during the coronavirus pandemic while his administration reportedly covered up thousands of coronavirus nursing home deaths.

The Joint Commission on Public Ethics (JCOPE) voted 12-1 for Cuomo to return the book’s proceeds to his publisher. From October 2020 to August 2021, Cuomo’s book reached little success, only selling fewer than 50,000 copies.

According to JCOPE’s voted upon resolution, the watchdog decided Cuomo must hand over the compensation money to Attorney General Letitia James, who was instrumental in forcing Cuomo’s resignation over sexual harassment allegations, because Cuomo used state resources to prepare the book, the New York Post reported.

“It is ordered that by no later than 30 days from the date of this resolution, Gov. Cuomo pay over to the attorney general of the State of New York an amount equal to the compensation paid to him for his outside activities related to the book,” the resolution reads.

The author of the resolution, David McNamara, a Senate Republican appointed commissioner, stated “Gov. Cuomo is not legally entitled to retain compensation … for any form of outside activity related to the book.”

Cuomo’s attorney pushed back on the ruling as “unconstitutional” and “driven by political interest.”

“JCOPE’s actions today are unconstitutional, exceed its own authority and appear to be driven by political interests rather than the facts and the law,” Cuomo’s attorney said. “Should they seek to enforce this action, we’ll see them in court.”

In February, New York’s secretary to Cuomo, Melissa DeRosa, confessed Cuomo allegedly suppressed information related to coronavirus nursing some deaths:

In a recorded call with state Democrat lawmakers, DeRosa said Cuomo’s team feared a federal investigation in the context of former President Donald Trump’s highlighting of coronavirus-related deaths in New York’s nursing homes. This fear motivated Cuomo’s government to suppress the statistics against requests for such information from the state’s government and citizens’ organizations.

But before Cuomo’s alleged cover up was further investigated, Cuomo resigned from the governorship over sexual harassment claims in August due to threats of legislative impeachment and legal action.

Follow Wendell Husebø on Twitter @WendellHusebø

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