A New York ethics board has rescinded its approval of former Gov. Andrew Cuomo's lucrative book deal, a reversal from recent votes in support of upholding the arrangement.
The Joint Commission on Public Ethics voted 12-1 to rescind its 2020 agreement allowing Cuomo to gain an estimated $5.1 million from American Crisis: Leadership Lessons from the COVID-19 Pandemic, reversing its stance just weeks ago allowing the approval to stand.
"A request was made on behalf of Gov. Andrew Cuomo to the commission for approval on stated conditions to engage in an outside activity relating to the authorship of a book in exchange for monetary royalties or other compensation therefrom ... and whereas enter into the representations made on behalf of Gov. Cuomo have now disclosed to the commission state property, resources, and personnel, including staff volunteers, were used in connection with the preparation, writing, editing, and publication of the book," one commissioner said when reading the motion, noting the book is "not in compliance" with the commission's nine conditions as listed in its approval letter.
ETHICS BODY ALLOWS CUOMO BOOK DEAL TO STAND
Rich Azzopardi, a spokesman for Cuomo, said the JCOPE members were "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 [Gov. 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 ... They truly are a J-JOKE," he said.
On Oct. 19, the board voted 7-2 to undo the agreement approving Cuomo's book deal, but the measure required eight votes to pass. The ethics agency previously voted on Sept. 14 to allow the former governor's book deal to stand.
Last month, the JCOPE approved an investigation into its authorization of the former governor's $5.1 million book deal, with even those who previously supported allowing Cuomo's approval to stand, such as Chairman Jose Nieves, who was appointed by Gov. Kathy Hochul following the resignation of Cuomo appointee Chairman James Dering, voting in favor of the independent investigation.
The JCOPE has been the subject of scrutiny, with New York Attorney General Letitia James issuing at least one subpoena in September 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.
Though Cuomo resigned on Aug. 24 after James released an Aug. 3 report saying he sexually harassed 11 women, the former governor has denied a slew of allegations of wrongdoing, including the charges contained in the sexual harassment and ethics controversies.
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The former governor and the state attorney general, once political allies, have been verbally sparring ever since James, who has since declared a gubernatorial run, announced the findings of her report. In September, James slammed Cuomo for not taking "responsibility for his own conduct" after he blasted his ouster as "politics."
Last month, Cuomo was charged with forcible touching regarding an incident that allegedly occurred at the executive mansion, which he said "never" happened in recent testimony. The former governor is expected to appear in court on Jan. 7.