New York's attorney general received a referral to conduct a criminal investigation into Gov. Andrew Cuomo's use of state resources for his book on leadership during the coronavirus pandemic.

Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli requested that Attorney General Letitia James investigate whether "public resources [were] used in the development and promotion of the governor's book, American Crisis: Leadership Lessons from the COVID-19 Pandemic," according to a letter sent last Tuesday. The book was published in October.

The potential investigation, which follows a March 31 ethics complaint from liberal watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington seeking an inquiry into whether the Democratic governor violated a law prohibiting "the use of campaign funds for personal use," would allow James to examine "any indictable offense or offenses," including "the drafting, editing, sale and promotion of the governor’s book and any related financial or business transactions."

The New York Times said Cuomo insisted that members of his staff volunteered to help with the book, but his office acknowledged that there might be some "incidental" use of state resources.


Last month, CREW alleged in a complaint filed with the New York State Board of Elections that Cuomo's reelection campaign "promoted sales of the book extensively on social media," including at least four times on Facebook. One post linked to the book's purchase page on Amazon, saying, "I know we have COVID fatigue, but it isn't time to quit fighting. Let's learn the lessons of the Spring to be smart in fighting back this virus now. Thank you for reading."

The group added that Cuomo used his campaign, Cuomo for New York, to advertise his biography in fundraising emails, citing one archived email purportedly from Cuomo's three daughters.

"Dad’s new book, American Crisis: Leadership Lessons from COVID-19 Pandemic, will be published this week," the email said. "The book tells the story of how his team and all New Yorkers met the moment when the pandemic hit our state. We hope you enjoy reading it as much as we did. You can order your copy here."

The bottom of the email stated, “Paid for by Andrew Cuomo for New York, Inc.”

"Cuomo for New York appears to have converted campaign funds to personal use by promoting sales of Governor Cuomo’s book through emails and social media posts. A campaign’s mailing list is an asset that has value — those lists are regularly sold or rented. By using its mailing list to promote sales of the book, Cuomo for New York used campaign funds for Governor Cuomo’s personal benefit," CREW said.

The allegation of improper use of campaign funds is the latest in a series of scandals threatening Cuomo's governorship. The governor is under federal investigation for his handling of nursing homes during the COVID-19 pandemic after Melissa DeRosa, a top aide to Cuomo, acknowledged that the governor's office hid the state’s nursing home coronavirus death toll out of fear of political retribution from then-President Donald Trump.

Recent news reports contain accusations that Cuomo directed state health officials to give special COVID-19 testing access to members of his inner circle, claims denied by Richard Azzopardi, a senior adviser to the governor, as an "insincere efforts to rewrite the past" in an email to the Washington Examiner.

The governor has been accused of sexual harassment by 10 women despite Cuomo denying that he ever engaged in inappropriate touching. The allegations have resulted in two investigations: James is investigating the claims at the state level, and New York State Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie is directing an "impeachment investigation" to look into the matter in the Legislature.


Despite mounting pressure from within his party to resign, Cuomo, who is eligible to seek a fourth term in office in 2022, has vowed not to step down, saying that the allegations of impropriety against him are false.

Representatives for James did not immediately reply to the Washington Examiner's request for comment.