New York’s state ethics watchdog issued a new order on Friday to try to coerce the disgraced ex-government. Andrew Cuomo wants to return the $5 million in book profit he is said to have been working on the backs of taxpayers amid the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Joint Commission on Public Ethics resolution directly asks Cuomo to return the profits to his publisher, Penguin/Random House.
An original order approved by JCOPE back in December tasked Attorney General Letitia James’ office with enforcement, including how to confiscate the money from Cuomo.
But the AG office refused to take any action, saying: Order was defective and to conclude that to do so would be illegal without JCOPE first conducting a full investigation into how Cuomo allegedly misused government resources to work on his pandemic-era memoir.
To sidestep the legal battle with James, Friday’s approved resolution, introduced by Commissioner David McNamara, a Senate Republican-appointed representative, would prompt JCOPE to hire a special attorney to enforce the order.
But state comptroller Tom DiNapoli would have to authorize the use of additional state taxpayer money to cover legal costs for JCOPE to face off against a defiant Cuomo who refuses to return the book profits. He has already put part of the proceeds into one irrevocable trust for his three daughters.
The Attorney General usually represents government agencies in court.
James – whose inquest report forced the three-year-old Democrat resignation of the governor after justify a a string of allegations of abuse and harassment leveled against him by former employees — has its own open probe whether Cuomo misused taxpayers’ money to publish the book.
The much-criticized JCOPE originally approved Cuomo’s request to publish the book American Crisis: Leadership Lessons from the COVID-19 Pandemic the height of the eruptionbased on assurances he would not use government employees or other government resources to prepare it.
The commissioners later claimed that Cuomo broke ethics rules by using state employees to help with the book, and both revoked their approval and attempted to “siphon” his profits.
Cuomo claimed employees volunteered to help in their free time and that he did not abuse public resources, which is illegal under the Public Officials Act.
A Cuomo representative mocked the latest JCOPE edict.
“Another day, another proof of the incompetence of J-Joke’s kangaroo court. We will see them in court,” said Cuomo spokesman Richard Azzopardi.
https://nypost.com/2022/03/18/andrew-cuomo-ordered-to-return-covid-book-profits-by-nys-ethics-watchdog/ Andrew Cuomo has ordered the return of COVID book profits by the NYS ethics watchdog