(The Post Millennial) – On Tuesday, New York’s top ethics panel ordered former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo to pay back the state the $5.1 million in profits he made from his pandemic book American Crisis: Leadership Lessons from the COVID-19 Pandemic.
The resolution was approved by the Joint Commission on Public Ethics (JCOPE) in a 12-1 vote, coming just one month after the agency voted to revote their prior approval that allowed Cuomo to earn outside income related to his book while he was governor, according to the New York Post.
JCOPE revoked its approval after concluding that Cuomo violated pledges not to use state resources or government staffers to make the book.
Cuomo must pay back state Attorney General Letitia James the $5.1 million he received in profits by next 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 resolution says.
The resolution was drafted by commissioner David McNamara, who said Cuomo now “lacked the legal authority to engage in outside activity and receive compensation in regard to the book” since JCOPE revoked its prior approval.
“Gov. Cuomo is not legally entitled to retain compensation … for any form of outside activity related to the book,” McNamara said.
Cuomo’s book is also is being investigated by James, the FBI, and the Brooklyn US Attorney’s Office.
“The state Assembly Judiciary Committee’s impeachment report found that Cuomo used staffers extensively to help prepare the book — though he insisted the work was done voluntarily and legally,” wrote the New York Post.
Cuomo’s book timing corresponded with the nursing home scandal, in which he was accused of severely underreporting coronavirus-related nursing home deaths. This turned into accusations that he was attempting to look better to make money off of the pandemic.
Cuomo’s lawyer has claimed JCOPE’s action was illegal, and would challenge it in court. “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 Cuomo attorney Jim McGuire. “Should they seek to enforce this action, we’ll see them in court.”