Beleaguered former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is facing more legal hurdles. New York State Attorney General Letitia James has issued at least one subpoena to the state’s ethics agency demanding all records on Cuomo’s $5 million book deal as part of her office’s criminal investigation into the matter.
Cuomo’s book, “American Crisis: Leadership Lessons From the COVID-19 Pandemic,” was published in October 2020. The $5.1 million deal includes $2 million in payouts in 2021 and 2022, according to a financial disclosure form made public in May.
New York state’s watchdog committee, the Joint Commission on Public Ethics (JCOPE), approved Cuomo’s application to receive outside income from the memoir in the summer of 2020. But critics have complained that the OK was improper since it was subject to internal approval by JCOPE staffers, instead of by a full panel vote.
In August, Cuomo announced his resignation following a barrage of sexual harassment allegations, AP reported. The 63-year-old Democrat, who continues to deny intentionally mistreating women, resigned after James released the results of an investigation that found Cuomo had sexually harassed at least 11 women.
Cuomo was also under fire over the findings that his administration had concealed thousands of covid-19 deaths in nursing homes.
Now, James wants to look into Cuomo’s book deal to see if state resources were improperly used in its production, including “the drafting, editing, sale and promotion of the Governor’s book and any related financial or business transactions,” The New York Post reported.
According to Cuomo’s office, state officials volunteered their time to work on the book during the summer of 2020. However, it was later revealed that top staffers including SUNY Chancellor Jim Malatras helped edit and fact-check the book at the request of former Cuomo top aides Melissa DeRosa and Stephanie Benton.
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Attorney General James’ latest move could spell more trouble for Cuomo.
“James’ issuance of a grand jury subpoena in the matter does not confirm that a grand jury has begun reviewing evidence in the investigation. But it does signal that the investigation into Cuomo’s and his staff’s potential misuse of government resources for private gain is entering a phase beyond interviews and gathering publicly available records,” Times Union reported.