Former New York governor Andrew Cuomo has just been ordered to forfeit his earnings from his very lucrative $5.1 million book deal, amid the sexual misconduct allegations against him that started back in December 2020. And he reportedly has just 30 days to comply!
On Tuesday, December 14th, the New York State public ethics commission voted in favor of stripping the former governor of all profits from his memoir, American Crisis: Leadership Lessons from the Covid-19 Pandemic, after it was announced that he would be facing a criminal trial due to the sexual misconduct allegations made by several women over the past year. The decision about his earnings from the memoir also comes after the commission previously discovered that state resources were used in connection with the book’s creation.
Allegations that Cuomo used several senior-level and junior-level staffers to write his book for him are also part of an ongoing criminal investigation by New York Attorney General Letitia James' office.
And according to a 60-page report by the state Assembly’s Judiciary Committee, "The former governor utilized the time of multiple state employees, as well as his own, to further his personal gain during a global pandemic — a time during which the former governor touted the ‘around-the-clock’ state response to the crisis." The report stated that Cuomo’s top aide exchanged over 1,000 emails about the book between June and December 2020 – a crucial time in the fight against COVID – while also determining that the many hours staffers spent on his book could have been better spent in response to the pandemic.
However, Rich Azzopardi, a spokesman for the politician, denied that any state resources were used for the book, telling CNN via statement: "This is political hypocrisy and duplicity at its worst. Governor Cuomo received a JCOPE opinion and advice of counsel stating that government resources could not be used – and they weren't – and any staffer who assisted in this project did so on their own time, which was reflected on their timesheets."
Jim McGuire, an attorney for Cuomo, called the action "unconstitutional" and said the commission was exceeding "its own authority." Interestingly, when the then-governor was asked by reporters back in April whether state resources were used to create his memoir, he responded by saying, "Some people volunteered to review the book." Things could get even trickier, as Azzopardi told CNN back in May that Cuomo donated $500,000 from his book deal to the United Way of New York State for pandemic relief and vaccination efforts, so we’re not sure what will happen to the donation now that he has to forfeit the profits.