New York Democrat Governor Andrew Cuomo is facing another investigation – this time for allegedly using state resources to write his pandemic memoir, “American Crisis: Leadership Lessons from the Covid-19 Pandemic.” The book portrays Cuomo as a hero even though New York was the state with the second-highest amount of deaths.
According to a New York Times report this week, the New York State attorney general has opened an investigation into Cuomo’s use of state resources to write and advertise his book after allegations from government staffers that they were told to work on the book.
Cuomo insists that the staffers “volunteered” for the project. Senior adviser Richard Azzopardi told the Times earlier this month that the staffers “volunteered on this project” in their free time.
Letitia James, New York State Attorney General, opened the latest investigation in Cuomo after she received a referral letter from State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli. Cuomo accused James and DiNapoli, who are both Democrats, of trying to sabotage him for their own political gain.
“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,” Azzopardi told the Times.
“This is Albany politics at its worst,” Azzopardi added. “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.”
Cuomo’s aides secured a $4 million advance to write the book. They also pressured the state Health Department to change a report showing how poorly Cuomo handled the Covid-19 pandemic in nursing homes.
“An impending Health Department report threatened to disclose a far higher number of nursing home deaths related to the coronavirus than the Cuomo administration had previously made public. Ms. [Melissa] DeRosa and other top aides expressed concern about the higher death toll, and, after their intervention, the number — which had appeared in the second sentence of the report — was removed from the final version,” according to a New York Times report from earleir this month. “The revisions occurred as the governor was on the brink of a huge payoff: a book deal that ended with a high offer of more than $4 million, according to people with knowledge of the book’s bidding process.”
Stephanie Benton, one of Cuomo’s top aides, was told to ask assistants to print portions of the manuscript’s draft and bring them to the governor’s mansion.
One anonymous staffer told the Times that she and others were asked to help type the book or transfer Cuomo’s notes.
Staffers said their work was not voluntary.
This is the fourth major investigation Cuomo is facing. He faces a federal inquiry into his handling of the coronavirus pandemic, a state investigation into numerous sexual assault allegations against the governor, and a State Assembly inquiry into the sexual assault allegations.