ALBANY, N.Y. (WTEN) — The states Joint Commission on Public Ethics released findings under which former Governor Andrew Cuomo’s book deal was made. The book deal profited Cuomo $5.1 million dollars.
JCOPE was created in 2011 as a way to oversee ethics and lobbying in New York. It recently had its final meeting. Law firm, Hogan Lovells investigated the commission’s approval allowing Cuomo to write the book, “American Crisis: Leadership Lessons From the COVID-19 Pandemic.”
The approval came after Cuomo’s counsel told the commission he agreed not to use any state employees or resources and would write it “entirely on his own time.” But complaints later surfaced saying Cuomo DID use state property, resources and employees to help write and publish the book.
However, former spokesperson for the ex-governor, Rich Azzopardi says otherwise. In a statement he says:: “As we said all along, on advice of counsel all staff who volunteered on the book worked on their own time — and as finally acknowledged today, we provided any and all information that JCOPE required for approval.”
But the report says JCOPE should have recognized quote “that there was a strong possibility the Governor would need to use state resources in order to complete the Book in time to be published in the fall… There were numerous questions that should have been asked prior to approving the July 10 Request, but were not.”
Assembly Minority Leader Will Barclay says the report is proof that JCOPE and the new entity to replace it, is not politically balanced. “These are democratic controlled entities and I’ve always said the way we’re gonna have true ethics reform is to make whatever overweight committee or commission it is to make it bi-partisan, because Republicans have an interest in keeping Democrats accountable and Democrats have an interest in keeping Republicans accountable,” said Barclay.
The Leader says as part of the new commission, there will be 11 members total. Nine democrats and two republicans. He says the state still has a long way to go to carry out true accountability and ethics here in New York. The link to the report has recently been disabled but can be found here.