Disgraced Democrat Governor Andrew Cuomo, who was run out of the New York governor's mansion in August, has been ordered by the Joint Commission on Public Ethics to pay back the $5.1 million book advance he received at the height of the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic. The funds must be sent to New York Attorney General Letitia James.
“It is ordered that by no later than 30 days from the date of this resolution, Gov. Cuomo pay over to the attorney general of the State of New York an amount equal to the compensation paid to him for his outside activities related to the book,” the resolution states.
According to Spectrum News 1, things are complicated.
There are some potential complications: Cuomo placed $1 million from the book proceeds into a blind trust for his daughters. He also donated $500,000 to the United Way in the Capital Region. And income tax returns Cuomo made publicly available last April indicated he was yet to receive the full $5.1 million that had been part of the contract with his publisher.
The ethics commission earlier this year moved to rescind what had been staff approval in 2020 for the ex-governor to write the book, which had been predicated on Cuomo not using government resources to write it.
A report released last month by the Democratic-led Assembly Judiciary Committee found Cuomo used state resources — including government staff — to help him write the book. Cuomo and his aides have maintained government officials and staff who worked on the book did so on a volunteer basis, comparing it to legislative aides working weekend and off hours on political campaigns.
Cuomo's attorney, Jim McGuire, is pushing back on the ruling, which came down 12-1.
"JCOPE’s actions today are unconstitutional, exceed its own authority and appear to be driven by political interests rather than the facts and the law. Should they seek to enforce this action, we’ll see them in court,” McGuire released in a statement.
Cuomo announced his book deal at the same time he was forcing infected virus patients into nursing homes, resulting in thousands of deaths. His office then purposely undercounted nursing home deaths and covered up accurate numbers.