New York AG asked to investigate if Cuomo used state resources on his book
The New York state attorney general has received a referral to open an investigation into Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s (D) possible use of state resources for his recent pandemic memoir, allegations that come as the embattled state executive deals with multiple other scandals.
A spokesperson at New York State Attorney General Letitia James’s office confirmed to The Hill that she has received the referral but would not comment further, citing an ongoing investigation.
New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli, in a letter to James dated April 13, pointed to allegations that “public resources may have been used in the development and promotion” of Cuomo’s book “American Crisis: Leadership Lessons from the COVID-19 Pandemic.”
In the letter, which was obtained by The Hill, DiNapoli asked for James to “investigate the alleged commission of any indictable offense or offenses in violation of the law” which relate to “the use of property, services or resources of the state for personal purposes, private business purposes or other compensated non-governmental purposes by the Executive Chamber.”
He requests that the investigation include, but not be limited to, “the drafting, editing, sale and promotion of the Governor’s book and any related financial or business transactions.”
The Hill has reached out to Cuomo for comment.
Allegations had emerged that junior staff members and senior aides in Cuomo’s office worked on the memoir. According to The New York Times, the staffers reportedly did everything from editing early drafts and sitting in on pitch meetings, to smaller tasks such as printing and delivering pages to the governor’s mansion.
Cuomo, The Times reported, has said that any work for the book completed by government employees was voluntary. He did, however, say that some minor work may have been “incidental.”
Cuomo’s office responded to the inquiry, suggesting to CNN that the investigation was requested as a result of James’s and DiNapoli’s political ambitions.
“We have officially jumped the shark — the idea there was criminality involved here is patently absurd on its face and is just the furthering of a political pile-on,” Richard Azzopardi, a senior adviser to Cuomo, told CNN.
“This is Albany politics at its worst — both the Comptroller and the Attorney General have spoken to people about running for Governor and it is unethical to wield criminal referral authority to further political self-interest,” Azzopardi said.
This investigation, if opened by James, will be the fourth current probe into Cuomo.
James is also investigating multiple allegations of sexual harassment against the governor.
Cuomo is also the subject of State Assembly investigations, which are looking into the accusations of sexual harassment, and claims that his administration withheld data regarding coronavirus-related deaths in the state’s nursing homes.
Charles Lavine, the chair of the Assembly’s Judiciary Committee, said that the investigators hired by his committee would also look into the book deal and the alleged use of state resources, according to The Times.
Last month, Cuomo’s publisher said it paused promoting his book in response to the investigation into COVID-19 nursing home deaths, telling The Times “we have paused active support of ‘American Crisis’ and have no plans to reprint or reissue in paperback.”