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Tuesday, New York’s Joint Commission on Public Ethics ordered former New York Governor Andrew Cuomo to pay the state $5.1 million, the total proceeds that he earned from his 2020 pandemic memoir, American Crisis: Leadership Lessons from the Covid-19 Pandemic.
The ethics panel ruled that Cuomo must turn over the proceeds to Attorney General Letitia James, whose office investigated him for COVID deaths and sexual harassment allegations which ultimately led to his resignation.
David McNamara, the Senate Republican appointee who drafted the resolution, claims Cuomo “lacked the legal authority to engage in outside activity and receive compensation in regard to the book.
“Gov. Cuomo is not legally entitled to retain compensation … for any form of outside activity related to the book,” McNamara said.
However, Cuomo plans to fight the decision in court. His lawyer called the panel’s ruling illegal.
“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,” said Jim McGuire, Cuomo lawyer. “We’ll see them in court.”
The matter is also complicated by the fact Cuomo donated $500,000 of the book’s proceeds to charity and put another $1 million in a trust for his daughters.
The panel says Cuomo must pay the state $5.1 million within 30 days.