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Andrew Cuomo has to hand over $5 million in book earnings after ethics probe

A  man with a suit points to himself
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks during a news conference at New York’s Yankee Stadium on July 26, 2021.
(Richard Drew / Associated Press)

Former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has been ordered to give back the millions of dollars he earned from his 2020 memoir “American Crisis: Leadership Lessons From the COVID-19 Pandemic.”

It’s the latest hit for the embattled Democrat, who was a sobering figure during the unprecedented public health crisis until his good fortune turned amid a number of political scandals, leading to his resignation as governor in August over sexual misconduct allegations.

The Joint Commission on Public Ethics last month rescinded its approval of “American Crisis” after deciding that Cuomo ran afoul of state ethics laws to publish it. On Tuesday, the board directed the embattled politician to relinquish roughly $5.1 million in earnings to the state attorney general’s office within 30 days and authorized the office to enforce the collection, the L.A. Times has confirmed.

HarperCollins’ imprint Custom House has scrapped plans to publish TV personality Chris Cuomo’s book ‘Deep Denial’ in the wake of his firing from CNN.

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The 64-year-old public figure has been criticized for using public resources, including state workers, to write the book, according to Bloomberg. His lucrative book contract also increased his net income from just over $280,000 in 2019 to $1.5 million in 2020, according to tax documents, Bloomberg said.

In a statement released by his lawyer Jim McGuire to the New York Times and Associated Press, McGuire argued that the commission’s “actions today are unconstitutional, exceed its own authority and appear to be driven by political interests rather than the facts and the law.”

McGuire threatened legal action should the commission enforce its decision.

Cuomo reportedly donated $500,000 of the book’s proceeds to charity and placed another $1 million in a trust for his daughters, the New York Times reported.

Republicans, including evangelical Christians, enthusiastically voted for Donald Trump. Why wouldn’t they embrace Andrew Cuomo?

“American Crisis” briefly topped the bestseller list upon its release in October 2020, but sales flagged when public opinion turned on Cuomo as scandals mounted. An impeachment investigation looked into whether state resources had been used to help him write the book and whether Cuomo urged a state ethics board to fast-track approving the book deal.

Approval of the book deal was granted in July 2020 after Cuomo’s counsel told the commission he agreed to not use any state personnel or resources to produce the memoir and that he would write it “entirely on his own time,” AP reported. But complaints later surfaced that state property, resources and personnel were used to prepare, write, edit and publish the book “contrary to the representations” made on Cuomo’s behalf. Ethics commission members voted to rescind approval because of “material omissions and misrepresentations” about the book deal.

Cuomo has acknowledged that state employees helped with tasks including editing the manuscript, but claimed that those employees were volunteering.

The New Yorker magazine declared that Cuomo’s downfall began with the book deal and the fallout from the memoir has become something of a cautionary tale in the publishing world. The book, acquired by the Penguin Random House imprint Crown for a reported $5 million, has dragged the publisher into the politician’s spectacular fall from grace.

Cuomo’s scandals also engulfed his younger brother’s career, leading to CNN firing host Chris Cuomo earlier this month and HarperCollins pumping the brakes on his pandemic book, “Deep Denial.”


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