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Former New York Governor Andrew Cuomo was ordered Tuesday to turn over the proceeds from his pandemic book deal – an estimated $5.1 million – to the state Attorney General’s office within the next 30 days, following a probe by a state ethics panel.

The profits from Cuomo’s ‘American Crisis: Leadership Lessons from the COVID-19 Pandemic’ came into question in October, when the Empire State’s Joint Commission on Public Ethics (JCOPE) announced that it was conducting an internal inquiry that was reassessing its initial approval of Cuomo’s 2020 book. 

The ethics agency commission voted 12-1 on Tuesday to order the ousted governor to fork over his memoir’s profits to the state Attorney General’s office, after multiple investigations found Cuomo used state resources to produce and promote the tell-all book. 

‘Gov. Cuomo is not legally entitled to retain compensation… for any form of outside activity related to the book,’ commissioner David McNamara, a Senate Republican appointee, said.  

The ruling puts state Attorney General Letitia James in the hot seat, after her office’s investigative report into a slew of sexual harassment allegations leveled against the then-governor by several current and former staffers forced the disgraced Democrat to resign over the summer. 

James had announced she would run for governor but then suspended her campaign, saying she would seek re-election as AG.

Now, the AG is poised to determine how to redistribute the book’s profits – whether it be to the state, the publisher or some other body. The situation is further complicated by the fact that Cuomo has already placed $1 million of the book’s proceeds in a trust for his three daughters and donated another $500,000 to charity.

The ruling comes as the latest blow to the Cuomo family, following newscaster Chris Cuomo’s highly publicized firing from his $6million-a-year CNN gig earlier this month for helping his brother Andrew battle sexual harassment allegations. 

Former New York Governor Andrew Cuomo was ordered Tuesday to turn over the proceeds from his pandemic book deal - an estimated $5.1 million - to the state Attorney General's office within the next 30 days, following a probe by a state ethics panel

Former New York Governor Andrew Cuomo was ordered Tuesday to turn over the proceeds from his pandemic book deal - an estimated $5.1 million - to the state Attorney General's office within the next 30 days, following a probe by a state ethics panel

Former New York Governor Andrew Cuomo was ordered Tuesday to turn over the proceeds from his pandemic book deal – an estimated $5.1 million – to the state Attorney General’s office within the next 30 days, following a probe by a state ethics panel

Moments before the decision on Tuesday, an attorney for Cuomo announced that his office would be mounting a legal challenge to the panel’s order for his client to return the proceeds from the self-penned book. 

Cuomo had touted himself as a hero in regards to his handling of the pandemic despite being embroiled in a scandal over New York’s nursing home deaths due to COVID – a number that his administration misrepresented, according to reports.

The book, released in October 2020, centered on Cuomo's early handling of the Covid-19 pandemic in the state

The book, released in October 2020, centered on Cuomo's early handling of the Covid-19 pandemic in the state

The book, released in October 2020, centered on Cuomo’s early handling of the Covid-19 pandemic in the state

After analyzing the methods Cuomo used to prepare the tell-all, the ethics agency voted to revoke its prior approval of the book – which allowed the governor to earn outside income from its sales while in office, concluding that Cuomo violated pledges to not use state resources or government staffers during its preparation. 

Tuesday’s resolution, drafted by McNamara, states that Cuomo now ‘lacked the legal authority to engage in outside activity and receive compensation in regard to the book’ after JCOPE rescinded its initial approval last month.

‘It is ordered that by no later than 30 days from the date of this resolution, Gov. Cuomo pay over to the attorney general of the State of New York an amount equal to the compensation paid to him for his outside activities related to the book,’ the panel’s resolution states. 

‘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,’ attorney Jim McGuire told The New York Times ahead of the ruling. 

‘Should they seek to enforce this action, we’ll see them in court.’

Crown Publishing had offered the former governor more than $5 million for the manuscript – a risk at the time considering Cuomo’s previous memoir sold fewer than 4,000 hardcover copies. But the then-governor was receiving ample attention from the media over his handling of the pandemic and touted himself as a hero.

However, months after the book’s October 2020 release, the then-governor found himself at the center of a scandal suggesting that his office deliberately obscured death toll numbers concerning nursing home residents during the pandemic, in an apparent effort to save face politically.

An investigation by state AG James’ office subsequently found that several top Cuomo aides, at the behest of their boss, were engaged in the months-long effort to overrule and prevent state health officials from releasing the actual number of nursing-home deaths that occurred during the pandemic.

Prior to the investigation, Cuomo had been criticized for imposing a state mandate that forced nursing homes to readmit residents who had been infected and hospitalized with COVID-19 once they recovered were permitted to leave the health centers. 

Despite being at the center of several scandals, Cuomo celebrated his 64th birthday on December 6 with daughter Michaela Kennedy-Cuomo at his side - with his other daughters and wife noticeably absent

Despite being at the center of several scandals, Cuomo celebrated his 64th birthday on December 6 with daughter Michaela Kennedy-Cuomo at his side - with his other daughters and wife noticeably absent

Despite being at the center of several scandals, Cuomo celebrated his 64th birthday on December 6 with daughter Michaela Kennedy-Cuomo at his side – with his other daughters and wife noticeably absent

State Attorney General Tish James, who previously investigated the then governor in two separate scandals, is currently conducting a separate probe into the controversial book deal

State Attorney General Tish James, who previously investigated the then governor in two separate scandals, is currently conducting a separate probe into the controversial book deal

State Attorney General Tish James, who previously investigated the then governor in two separate scandals, is currently conducting a separate probe into the controversial book deal

Critics of the three-term Democrat, however, argued that the policy had increased the number of virus-related deaths among those residents – a claim that Cuomo’s office dismissed as a political play.

Then, in July 2020, Cuomo’s State Health Department released a fabricated report that suggested the policy was not responsible for an increase.   

By January, James’ office had discerned that Cuomo’s administration had misrepresented the number of nursing home deaths, undercounting them by several thousand. 

When confronted with the office’s findings, Cuomo eventually conceded that there were falsehoods in the state’s report, after reports emerged that his aides had altered the July report to hide the true figure, spurring a federal investigation that forced the career politician to resign in disgrace.

Cuomo is also under criminal investigation related to an allegation that he groped a former staffer at the governor’s mansion in November.

It was the most serious among the sexual harassment claims made by 11 women outlined in a report released by James’ earlier last month.

On August 31 is was revealed that the Albany County Sheriff’s office had issued subpoenas in the investigation into a criminal complaint filed by the alleged victim, Brittany Commissio, the Times Union reported.

Additionally Cuomo faces criminal probes by the FBI and the Brooklyn US Attorney’s office over Covid-19 nursing homes deaths.  

He denies all the allegations made against him. 

With that said, Cuomo’s book deal is also still being investigated, by James’ office, the FBI, and the Brooklyn US Attorney’s Office, amid the state Assembly Judiciary Committee’s declaration that Cuomo once again misused government staffers by  enlisting to help prepare the book – a direct contradiction to the then governor’s previous agreement with the ethics committee. 

Despite being at the center of several scandals, Cuomo celebrated his 64th birthday with daughter Michaela Kennedy-Cuomo at his side on December 6 – with his other daughters and wife noticeably absent. 

Tax records show that Cuomo already received the bulk of his advance for the book, $3.12 million, in 2020 and was expected to receive an additional $2 million in installments over two years. Crown has since stopped promoting the title following the New York nursing home and sexual harassment scandals. It had also canceled plans for a paperback edition.

In April, the former governor said he put $1 million of the proceeds from the book into a trust fund for his three daughters and donated $500,000 to non-profit fundraising affiliate United Way, Spectrum reported. It’s so far unknown how Cuomo is going to give back such funds.

Its top staff approved Cuomo’s request to write the book in July 2020. 

However, they did so without the usual vote put to all 14 members ahead of a request by the governor to earn income from a private source, with the deal instead approved by other members of the panel.  

Cuomo’s replacement, Governor Kathy Hochul, appointed a new chairman, Queens-based Attorney Jose Nieves, to oversee the state watchdog’s since-completed probe. 

For the investigation, JCOPE, which oversees ethics and lobbying in the state of New York, elected to enlist an outside law firm to ‘conduct an inquiry into the facts, circumstances, policies and practices’ over the approval, the Daily News reported.  

Cuomo’s request to write the memoir was approved in the Summer of 2020 without having submitted the book contract to the panel. Multiple members of the panel at that time have since resigned.  

The Cuomo brothers appeared together on CNN often during the pandemic. Both have since become the subject of multiple investigations and scandals

The Cuomo brothers appeared together on CNN often during the pandemic. Both have since become the subject of multiple investigations and scandals

The Cuomo brothers appeared together on CNN often during the pandemic. Both have since become the subject of multiple investigations and scandals

Queens Attorney Jose Nieves was newly appointed as JCOPE chairman

Queens Attorney Jose Nieves was newly appointed as JCOPE chairman

Buffalo Attorney Sharon Stern Gerstman was newly appointed as JCOPE commissioner

Buffalo Attorney Sharon Stern Gerstman was newly appointed as JCOPE commissioner

Governor Kathy Hochul recently filled in two JCOPE vacancies following acting chair- and Cuomo appointee- James Dering’ resignation

Cuomo had received permission from state ethics commissioners last year to write his book – under the stipulation that he had to write the book on ‘his own time and not on state time,’ in accordance with widely observed rules concerning state ethics. The agency also asked that, ‘no state property, personnel or other resources’ be used during the book’s preparation.

However, since the organization’s approval in July, several of the governor’s former and current staffers, including former Secretary to the Governor Melissa DeRosa and the Director of Governor’s Offices Stephanie Benton, were unmasked as accomplices in book’s production, per several reports.

Cuomo claims his aides offered their time voluntarily and denies allegations of impropriety.

Governor Hochul, who replaced Cuomo after he resigned, only just recently filled in two JCOPE vacancies following acting chair- and Cuomo appointee- James Dering’s resignation in September, appointing Nieves as chairman and Buffalo Attorney Sharon Stern Gerstman as commissioner in October.

‘Jose Nieves and Sharon Stern Gerstman are well-respected and talented professionals who will uphold our commitment to open, ethical governing and help to transform not just state government, but more importantly, people’s image and perception of their state government,’ Hochul said in a statement at the time.

Cuomo’s book, which was released in October 2020, was tied to the governor’s daily COVID-19 briefings in 2020 during the height of the pandemic in New York.

He was hailed as a hero during the early days of the COVID outbreak, when New York was the global COVID epicenter, thanks to his matter-of-fact briefings peppered with personal reflections.   

The ruling comes as the latest blow to the Cuomo family following newscaster Chris Cuomo's highly publicized firing from CNN earlier this month, for helping brother Andrew battle sexual harassment allegations. DailyMail.com spotted Cuomo in the Hamptons on Saturday (pictured) in his first sighting since being fired from the network on December 4

The ruling comes as the latest blow to the Cuomo family following newscaster Chris Cuomo's highly publicized firing from CNN earlier this month, for helping brother Andrew battle sexual harassment allegations. DailyMail.com spotted Cuomo in the Hamptons on Saturday (pictured) in his first sighting since being fired from the network on December 4

The ruling comes as the latest blow to the Cuomo family following newscaster Chris Cuomo’s highly publicized firing from CNN earlier this month, for helping brother Andrew battle sexual harassment allegations. DailyMail.com spotted Cuomo in the Hamptons on Saturday (pictured) in his first sighting since being fired from the network on December 4

This is the first time he's been seen in public since November 30 when he was suspended from the network for helping his brother Andrew battle sexual harassment allegations

This is the first time he's been seen in public since November 30 when he was suspended from the network for helping his brother Andrew battle sexual harassment allegations

This is the first time he's been seen in public since November 30 when he was suspended from the network for helping his brother Andrew battle sexual harassment allegations

This is the first time he's been seen in public since November 30 when he was suspended from the network for helping his brother Andrew battle sexual harassment allegations

The snaps, taken outside the axed anchor’s Hamptons home, depict the first time the younger Cuomo’s has been seen in public since November 30, when he was suspended from the network

Source: dailymail

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