The NYS Commission on Ethics Matters on Tuesday asked the former disgraced Democratic Governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo, to forfeit the approximately $5.1 million he earned from the publication of a book about his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.
The commission, known as JCOPE, asked Cuomo — who resigned from office on August 10 after being accused of sexual harassment by several female employees and former employees — to turn over the money to the state attorney general’s office, local media reported.
The writing of this book sparked several criticisms at the time after it became known that employees of the governor’s office had participated in its writing and, above all, after the appearance of accusations against the governor of having made up the number of deaths caused by COVID-19 in New York’s nursing homes.
On November 16, the commission found that when the governor requested permission to write his book, he did not disclose the title of the book and that he was given the green light to write it with the understanding that he would write it on his own time, without the use of state resources or staff.
Contrary to statements made on behalf of Governor Cuomo, and not disclosed to the Commission, state property, resources and personnel, including volunteer staff, were used in the preparation, writing, editing and publication of the book, according to the commission.
The book, American Crisis: Leadership Lessons from the COVID-19 Pandemic, was published last October and, according to Cuomo’s own publicly released tax returns, $1.5 million went to expenses and tax payments.
Curiously, the Democratic governor of New York received an Emmy Award for his handling of the pandemic, before it was revealed that he had made up the numbers of deaths in nursing homes.
According to The New York Times, Cuomo’s lawyer assured that he will not abide by the committee’s decision, i.e., he will not return the proceeds from the book.