Cuomo may have to cough up $5M book deal profits if ethics violations pan out

State regulators could theoretically confiscate royalties that ex-Gov. Andrew Cuomo banked from his book touting his so-called leadership during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

There is even a question as to whether behind-the-scenes bureaucrats properly authorized the liberal politician to write the tome and rake in outside income in the first place.

Judge Sanford Berland, the executive director of New York’s Joint Commission on Public Ethics (JCOPE), told lawmakers during a hearing in Albany, the state capitol, that the disgraced Democrat might have to cough up some profits from the $5.1 million contract for potential state law violations if those are determined.

The controlling statute contains a mechanism “for a penalty that includes recoupment of the compensation or benefits received by the individual,” Berland said, according to the New York Post, while also implying that Cuomo could fight back in court if the entire JCOPE panel approves the clawback, as the term is known in law and finance.

“New York’s public officer’s law bars elected officials from engaging in activity to enrich themselves, requiring a vetting and approval from the ethics agency on matters concerning outside income,” the Post explained.

Federal and state investigators are also reportedly trying to find out if Cuomo illegally used state workers as ghostwriters or the equivalent for “American Crisis: Leadership Lessons and the COVID-19 Pandemic” while they were on the clock.

Writing is challenging, solitary work, which is often unsuited for limelight-loving politicians (or famous-for-being famous celebrities, for that matter.) Cuomo claims, however, that his helpers were volunteers.

In the aftermath of the sexual harassment allegations that drove Cuomo from office, the publisher is apparently no longer actively promoting the memoir, which was initially a New York Times best-seller.

“Tension also arose among JCOPE commissioners earlier this year after it was revealed that JCOPE staffers quietly approved Cuomo’s request to write the book without a full panel vote…Commissioner Gary Lavine, a Republican appointee… plans on making a motion to revoke approval for Cuomo’s book deal during the public session of JCOPE’s upcoming meeting Thursday morning — which would force the ex-gov to reapply for permission,” the Post added.

“The grounds for rescission on the approval is the material misrepresentation that there would be no state resources used to write the book and effective its publication,” Lavine asserted.

Separately, the Emmy award that Cuomo received for his grandstanding, televised COVID-related press conferences has been revoked.

The book contract, the Emmy, and all the fawning media coverage now seem beyond absurd given the governor’s catastrophic decision to send COVID-positive patients into nursing homes, resulting in thousands of fatalities — plus the apparent cover-up that followed.

It remains to be seen if Cuomo or other officials will be held legally accountable for what occurred in the nursing homes, particularly since President Joe Biden’s Justice Department abandoned a probe into the matter.

Fox News meteorologist Janice Dean, who tragically lost both her in-laws (while they lived in separate eldercare housing) to the virus, and was for a long time the only media member demanding answers from the now-former governor, also weighed in on the possibility of revoking Cuomo’s cash.

Robert Jonathan

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