Government watchdogs say new state ethics panel should hold ex-government down Andrew Cuomo is crediting his infamous $5.1 million payday for a COVID-19 memoir he wrote while still on the job, possibly using government employees and resources.
“The state governor in New York is the highest-paid governor in the country, we expect him to work full-time,” Blair Horner, executive director of the New York Public Interest Research Group, said Monday.
“How serious they are [state Commission on Ethics and Lobbying in Government] if this issue is accepted, it could set a real precedent for how these issues will be addressed in the future,” Horner added ahead of a Nov. 15 commission meeting when the matter could be raised.
Reports released by the state assembly and the much-criticized Joint Commission on Public Ethics — a now-defunct body that the commission replaced months ago — detail how Cuomo, from his 2020 best-selling book, American Crisis: Leadership Lessons from the COVID-19 Pandemic” under questionable circumstances.
Cuomo, who has denied wrongdoing, was given permission to sign the lucrative deal with Penguin Books by a lawyer from JCOPE – an agency known to have dominated – before reportedly relying on government resources to complete the 309-page tribute to his create your own pandemic response.
“Both reports stated that JCOPE staff decision-making was based on prior consultation
opinions cited as precedent, had enabled a multi-million dollar publishing deal without proper verification at its most basic level. In addition, the reports indicate that the former governor ignored the ethical restrictions placed on him,” said a Nov. 11 letter to Sanford Berland, interim executive director of the government’s ethics and lobbying commission.
A spokesman for the commission did not say Monday whether its board would act on the recommendations in the seven-page letter from government overseers from Citizens Union, Common Cause/NY Executive Director, Reinvent Albany and the New York Public at its November 15 meeting interest research group.
The groups argue the new agency should examine the book deal alongside other outstanding cases that were unresolved when JCOPE – derisively dubbed the “J-Joke” for its often useless operations – went bust months ago after the Albany Democrats blocked the establishment of the approved by the new commission. The state budget was approved in April.
“If, after a proper hearing to establish reasonable issues of fact, you find such allegations to be true, you must act. Not just to enforce the law, but to set new precedent for ethics agencies to follow,” the letter said.
A finding of wrongdoing could cost Cuomo financially if the commission ever orders him to surrender money from the book, a move that would likely trigger legal action from the former three-term governor in response.
Cuomo has re-entered public life with a new podcast in recent weeks, following his retirement in August 2021, while remaining among the deaths despite a spate of scandals that have included allegations of sexual misconduct and a cover-up of data on COVID-19 deaths belonged in nursing homes, continues to deny wrongdoing.
A Cuomo spokesman, Richard Azzopardi, on Monday pushed back on his efforts to get the new commission to investigate the book trade after several rounds of bickering over the book trade before respective courts and public opinion.
“An outside law firm has already investigated this and concluded that JJOKE was provided with all the information necessary for its approval and – as the courts have found – later exceeded its powers to resolve a political vendetta.” Only on Planet Albany can these dark-money funded, self-proclaimed “good government groups” bring up this waste of taxpayers’ money with a straight face. Give me a break and disclose your donors,” Azzopardi said in a statement.
https://nypost.com/2022/11/14/nys-ethics-agency-should-probe-5-1m-andrew-cuomo-book-deal-watchdogs/ The New York Ethics Board should investigate the $5.1 million book deal with Andrew Cuomo: Watchdogs