ALBANY — A New York state ethics board on Tuesday revoked the approval it gave former Gov. Andrew Cuomo to publish his 2020 memoir, a move the Democrat dismissed as “the height of hypocrisy.”
The revocation by the Joint Commission on Public Ethics will require Cuomo to reapply for authorization. If his application is denied, the board — known by the acronym JCOPE — could attempt to force the former governor to surrender the $5.1 million he was paid for authoring “American Crisis: Leadership Lessons from the Covid-19 Pandemic.”
The vote on Tuesday passed with relatively minimal discussion, 12-1. William Fisher, who was appointed to the commission by Cuomo, voted against it.
“These JCOPE members are acting outside the scope of their authority and are carrying the water of the politicians who appointed them,” Cuomo spokesperson Rich Azzopardi said after the vote. “It is the height of hypocrisy for [Gov. Kathy] Hochul and the legislature’s appointees to take this position, given that these elected officials routinely use their own staff for political and personal assistance on their own time.”
Reports have emerged in recent months that several state workers aided the governor as he authored the memoir. On at least two occasions, junior staff were asked to print pages from the draft at the Capitol then deliver them to the Executive Mansion.
The ethics commissioners who have been pushing for revocation since the summer have argued that it was in order in part because authorization was granted by JCOPE staff and not the full commission.
They have also argued that Cuomo misrepresented how the book would be written — he “did not clearly state that state employees were going to volunteer,” one Senate GOP appointee said at a September meeting.
Cuomo’s administration has said this work was all done on volunteer time or was de minimis.
“Our counsel’s request to JCOPE was clear, saying ‘no government resources’ would be used — consistent with that representation, people who volunteered on this project did so on their own time,” Azzopardi said in a statement. The vote “amounts to nothing more than Albany political corruption at its worst,” he said.