ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — A new report claims former governor Andrew Cuomo misled the state’s ethics commission to receive approval to write his pandemic memoir. The report was released Thursday night.
Law firm Hogan Lovells was hired to investigate the Joint Commission on Public Ethics’s decision to approve Cuomo’s book, “American Crisis: Leadership Lessons from the COVID-19 Pandemic.” Included in the findings is the claim that Cuomo’s team told JCOPE the book wasn’t written, yet, and it would be a continuation of his first book published in 2014.
Instead, a New York State Assembly investigation found the former governor used state workers to nearly complete the book and settle on a publisher by the time he sought permission in July 2020. Cuomo’s team denied the Assembly’s allegations. They also claim the former governor was only seeking permission to sell the book and that he had already been keeping notes of his time as governor during the pandemic, saying there was “nothing stopping him from writing down his thoughts.”
Cuomo spokesman Rich Azzopardi released a statement on the Hogan Lovells report, saying, “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. There is some poetry to the fact that this feeble stunt – authored by the very law firm that is representing JJOKE in our lawsuit – is the last act from this incompetent biased, score settling dinosaur of a bureaucracy.”
In their report, Hogan Lovells also blamed JCOPE for failing to realize the ethical issues created by Cuomo profiting off his COVID-19 response. The book was released in October 2020, and Cuomo reportedly earned $5.1 million. JCOPE later rescinded its approval of the book and demanded he repay royalties from the book deal. Cuomo responded by suing the ethics commission.
In the lawsuit, filed in state Supreme Court in Albany, Cuomo accused JCOPE of violating his constitutional rights and showing “extraordinary bias against him.” The New York State attorney general’s office also issued a letter saying the commission had more steps to take before the office could get involved in trying to claim the money.
The former governor resigned from office in August 2021 after the state AG’s report surrounding sexual harassment allegations against Cuomo, who was also under fire for his administration’s counting of COVID deaths in nursing homes.
JCOPE will be replaced by a new ethics panel approved by the legislature and Gov. Kathy Hochul earlier this year. Critics said JCOPE is too secretive, and it can’t be truly independent when its members are politically appointed. Hochul said she wants to fix that by implementing a rotating board of five members made up of the deans of New York’s 15 accredited law schools.
The Hogan Lovells report can be read in-full below:
The Associated Press contributed to this report.