NY Ethics Panel Orders Ex-Governor Andrew Cuomo to Repay Profits From $5.1 Million Book Deal

© AP Photo / Seth WenigIn this Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2021, file photo, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks during a press conference before the opening of a mass COVID-19 vaccination site in the Queens borough of New York.
In this Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2021, file photo, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks during a press conference before the opening of a mass COVID-19 vaccination site in the Queens borough of New York. - Sputnik International, 1920, 15.12.2021
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Last year, Crown, an imprint of Penguin Random House, beat out several competitors to ink a $5.1 million deal with then-New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, who, at the time, was revered for navigating the COVID hotspot state through the pandemic. Now resigned from office, Cuomo has been brought up on ethics charges related to his pandemic-era memoir.
In a 12-1 vote on Tuesday, New York's Joint Commission on Public Ethics (JCOPE) moved to approve JCOPE Resolution 21-03, which states that Cuomo now lacks "legal authority" to receive compensation for "American Crisis: Leadership Lessons from the COVID-19 Pandemic".
As a result, Cuomo must return the profits he received from his COVID-19 memoir, according to the ethics board's resolution.
The former New York governor must make the repayment within 30 days from Tuesday. If Cuomo "fails to make timely payment", the matter will be referred to the sitting New York attorney general for enforcement.
Per the order, New York Attorney General Letitia James (D) will be tasked with determining the appropriate recipients of the book proceeds.
© AFP 2022 / MICHAEL M. SANTIAGONEW YORK, NEW YORK - MARCH 01: A person places his red painted hands on a poster of Gov. Andrew Cuomo's book as people gather outside of his NYC office to protest against cuts to health care on March 01, 2021 in New York City
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - MARCH 01: A person places his red painted hands on a poster of Gov. Andrew Cuomo's book as people gather outside of his NYC office to protest against cuts to health care on March 01, 2021 in New York City - Sputnik International, 1920, 15.12.2021
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - MARCH 01: A person places his red painted hands on a poster of Gov. Andrew Cuomo's book as people gather outside of his NYC office to protest against cuts to health care on March 01, 2021 in New York City
"JCOPE's actions today are unconstitutional, exceed its own authority, and appear to be driven by political interests rather than the facts and the law", Jim McGuire, Cuomo's attorney, said in a quoted statement.

"Should they seek to enforce this action, we'll see them in court", Cuomo's attorney added.

Passage of the ethics panel's resolution comes weeks after another 12-1 vote led to the commission rescinding its approval of Cuomo's book deal. JCOPE found that Cuomo violated his previous pledge to not use state resources in the production of the memoir.
Per New York's Assembly Judiciary Committee report on the matter, Cuomo repeatedly tapped state employees to complete book-related assignments that were "not voluntary" and, at times, were worked on during regular shift hours.
Rich Azzopardi, a Cuomo spokesperson, argued at the time that the panel was "acting outside the scope of their authority" and were "carrying the water of the politicians who appointed them".
"It is the height of hypocrisy for [New York Governor Kathy] Hochul and the legislature's appointees to take this position, given that these elected officials routinely use their own staff for political and personal assistance on their own time", Azzopardi claimed, slamming the ethics panel as "corruption at its worst".
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