Cuomo employees worked on a $5 million COVID book while 1,000 New Yorkers were dying a day
Then-Gov. Andrew Cuomo had senior administration staff working on his self-aggrandizing $5.1 million COVID-19 memoir at the height of the pandemic – when New York was losing around 1,000 residents a day to the deadly virus, a new bombshell claims.
The conservative Empire Center for Public Policy said emails obtained under the state’s Freedom of Information Act showed that on March 30, 2020, Melissa DeRosa, Cuomo’s top assistant, began directing employees to compile information for them.
“Who can create a timeline for me? Call me to discuss this,” DeRosa wrote at 7:58 a.m., according to the email.
That was just over two weeks after Cuomo announced the first coronavirus-related death: an 82-year-old woman who died at Wycoff Heights Medical Center in Brooklyn.
The emails cover the period from March 30 to April 18, 2020, during the first and deadliest wave of the pandemic, when the seven-day average death toll peaked at 978 on April 13.
Although none of the messages specifically mentioned Cuomo’s book project, his memoir later used dates and associated numbers of COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths for each chapter title, according to the Empire Center.
Additionally, on April 18, 2020, one of Cuomo’s speechwriters emailed DeRosa and other senior aides to the governor with a draft version of “a foreword I’ve been working on.”
Written as by Cuomo in the first person, it commemorated his plans for January 8, 2020, which was described as “a special day, the day I would deliver the state of the state speech.”
Speechwriter Jamie Malanowski also wrote that a colleague, Tom Topousis — a former NY Post reporter who was then working for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey — “pushed the tick tock together [timeline] and will answer.”
The emails suggest that work on Cuomo’s book by his staff began much earlier than previously described in an impeachment report prepared by the State Assembly Judiciary Committee.
That report quoted a junior staffer as recalling instructions given “in June or early July” to staffers “to urgently compile materials related to then-Governor Cuomo’s COVID press briefings, a task for carrying them out.” about five junior employees took several hours. ”
The emails were received from Peter Arbeeny, whose father Norman died of COVID-19 shortly after leaving a nursing home in Brooklyn.
Arbeeny, who has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Cuomo and DeRosa, called the emails “shocking to me.”
“My father passed away on April 21, 2020,” he told the Post. “Reg. Cuomo said he was busy saving lives. He was busy writing a book!”
Arbeeny also said that Cuomo’s memoir “furthered the narrative of Andrew Cuomo as the self-proclaimed pandemic god.”
“They knew they were working on a book and wanted to portray themselves as pandemic warriors,” he said.
Cuomo’s book, American Crisis: Leadership Lessons from the COVID-19 Pandemic, was released in October 2020 and was a brief bestseller.
But Crown Publishing Group stopped promoting it in March 2021 because Cuomo was under investigation by the state for “reporting of Covid-related deaths in nursing homes,” the company said at the time.
The move came after The Post exclusively revealed that DeRosa privately apologized to Democratic lawmakers for covering up the nursing home death toll, fearing the numbers would be “used against us” by federal prosecutors.
Cuomo has been accused of fueling nursing home deaths through March 25, 2020, the Department of Health’s guideline for facilities to accept “medically stable” COVID-19 patients discharged from hospitals.
Cuomo has denied that the directive – which was lifted after about six weeks – spread the virus among vulnerable seniors, calling those allegations “lies” and “misinformation”.
Cuomo resigned in August 2021 while under fire over allegations of sexual harassment, as well as other scandals surrounding his book business and the nursing home deaths.
He has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing and received taxpayer money on Friday to defend himself against a lawsuit alleging he sexually molested a state police officer.
In August, an Albany District Court ruling allowed Cuomo to keep the proceeds from his book after the now-defunct Joint Commission on Public Ethics ordered him to turn over the money to the state.
Cuomo spokesman Rich Azzopardi on Friday called the Empire Center’s report “false and defamatory.”
“The emails have NOTHING to do with work on the book, which began months later,” he said in an email.
“The schedule should inform the daily briefings, speeches and other COVID-related materials. Of course, a speechwriter would produce speech in the governor’s voice.”
DeRosa’s attorney, Gregory Morvillo, also said, “Any article stating that Melissa DeRosa directed anyone to work on Governor Cuomo’s book in March and/or April 2020 is false and reckless.”
“MS. DeRosa did no work related to the book until the daily briefings were completed, and this assistance was volunteer, with no government resources, and was accounted for on their timesheets,” Morvillo added.
Malanowksi told The Post that at the time of his email “I didn’t know a book was in the works”.
Malanowski said his “preface” was intended as “narrative” for speeches or discussions, but conceded, “I think that could be used in a book.”
https://nypost.com/2023/01/27/report-claims-cuomo-team-worked-5m-covid-book-as-1k-nyers-died-each-day/ Cuomo employees worked on a $5 million COVID book while 1,000 New Yorkers were dying a day