A New York public ethics commission on Tuesday voted to order former Gov. Andrew Cuomo to turn over $5.1 million he was paid to write a memoir during his pandemic response, CNN reports.
Cuomo received a $5.1 million advance for his book “American Crisis: Leadership Lessons from the Covid-19 Pandemic,” which sold few copies despite Cuomo’s role as a prominent leader in the country’s Covid response last year.
Subsequent investigations by New York Attorney General Letitia James and the New York State legislature found that Cuomo used state resources and his gubernatorial aides to help work on the book, which Cuomo says they only did on their own time.
Cuomo ultimately stepped down before he could be impeached by the state Assembly, accusing James, a fellow Democrat, of waging a political vendetta against him and decrying that he was denied due process.
Cuomo’s spokesman previously said that he donated $500,000 from his book deal to the United Way of New York for pandemic relief and vaccination efforts.
Ethics panel orders Cuomo to pay up:
The Joint Commission on Public Ethics voted Tuesday to order Cuomo to pay $5.1 million to taxpayers.
The board voted 12-1 in support of the motion.
Cuomo has 30 days to return the money, according to the resolution.
The commission voted last year to approve Cuomo’s book deal.
The commission approved the deal after Cuomo vowed that he would write the book "entirely on his own time without the use of state resources or personnel."
The panel in November voted to revoke the approval partly because "state property resources and personnel including staff volunteers were used in connection with the preparation writing editing and publication of the book.”
Cuomo pushes back:
Jim McGuire, an attorney for Cuomo, called the vote “unconstitutional” and accused the commission of exceeding “its own authority.”
"This is political hypocrisy and duplicity at its worst," said Cuomo spokesman Rich Azzopardi. "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."