A New York ethics agency has voted to maintain its approval of former Gov. Andrew Cuomo's book deal, despite the body recently approving an investigation into that authorization.
On Tuesday, the Joint Commission on Public Ethics voted 7-2 to undo its 2020 agreement allowing Cuomo to rake in an estimated $5.1 million from American Crisis: Leadership Lessons from the COVID-19 Pandemic. The measure required eight votes to pass.
"I move to void the opinion of the deputy general counsel acting in the capacity as acting co-executive director approving Gov. Cuomo's publishing activity on the ground that there was a failure of required concurrence by the other acting co-executive director and because material facts were omitted, misstated, or misrepresented when seeking such opinion," said JCOPE Commissioner Gary Lavine.
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The two commissioners who voted in opposition were William Fisher, a Cuomo appointee, and Chairman Jose Nieves, who was appointed by Gov. Kathy Hochul following the resignation of Cuomo appointee Chairman James Dering.
Earlier this month, the JCOPE approved an investigation into its authorization of Cuomo's lucrative book deal. Nieves voted in favor of hiring outside counsel. The ethics agency previously voted on Sept. 14 to allow the former governor's book deal to stand.
The JCOPE has been at the center of the investigation, with Attorney General Letitia James issuing at least one subpoena last month for its records following an April referral from Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli to discover whether "public resources [were] used in the development and promotion of the governor's book."
Cuomo, who is expected to earn $5.1 million from the book, insisted staff members volunteered to help, though his office conceded there could be some "incidental" use of state resources.
Hochul has overseen an exodus of executive appointees following her vow to purge the administration of "unethical" Cuomo allies, with the state health commissioner, inspector general, and several JCOPE members all departing the administration in recent weeks.
Though Cuomo resigned on Aug. 24 after James released a bombshell Aug. 3 report saying he sexually harassed 11 women, the former governor has denied all allegations of wrongdoing. His attorney called for an independent review of James's findings.
"What happened here was wrong, and the reason I sent the letter to the attorney general today ... is because process is everything that our country's based upon," Cuomo attorney Rita Glavin said during a press conference Wednesday afternoon.
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James, whom Glavin said had an "obvious conflict" due to speculation about her gubernatorial ambitions in 2022, hit back at Cuomo's criticism of her investigation, saying the former governor hasn't taken "responsibility for his own conduct."
Representatives for Hochul did not immediately respond to the Washington Examiner's requests for comment. A representative for the JCOPE declined to comment.