Beleaguered former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has been ordered to give back the $5.1 million he earned from his bestselling book, “American Crisis: Leadership Lessons from the Covid-19 Pandemic,” which focused on his handling of the covid-19 crisis and painted him as a pandemic hero.
Cuomo was forced to resign in August after numerous allegations of sexual harassment were reported by women inside and outside his office. A New York State public ethics commission wants him to pay back earnings from the $5.1 million book deal he received to write a book about leading the state during the coronavirus pandemic, CNN reported.
The New York State Joint Commission on Public Ethics (JCOPE) voted on Dec. 14 after finding that state resources were used in connection with the book’s creation.
Cuomo has been given 30 days to return the money. New York Attorney General Letitia James, who led the sexual harassment investigation against Cuomo, has the legal authority to enforce the decision and determine where the returned book proceeds should be distributed.
The resolution, drafted by commissioner David McNamara, a Senate Republican appointee, said Cuomo now “lacked the legal authority to engage in outside activity and receive compensation in regard to the book,” The New York Post reported.
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“Gov. Cuomo is not legally entitled to retain compensation … for any form of outside activity related to the book,” McNamara said.
Cuomo spokesman Rich Azzopardi described the move as “political hypocrisy and duplicity at its worst.”
“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,” Azzopardi said.
Meanwhile, Jim McGuire, an attorney for Cuomo, called the action “unconstitutional” and said the commission has exceeded “its own authority.”
Cuomo’s office had said previously that he earned about $1.5 million after taxes and expenses for the book in 2020, with a third donated to the United Way of New York State and the rest put into an irrevocable trust for his three grown daughters, The New York Post reported.