The third time’s the attraction.
After two failed makes an attempt, New York state’s ethics fee voted 12 to 1 Tuesday to revoke the permission it granted former Governor Andrew Cuomo to put in writing the controversial memoir that earned him a payout of $5.1 million and is now the topic of a number of investigations.
The revocation may imply Cuomo might need to forfeit among the income he made out of Crown Publishing Group for “American Crisis: Leadership Lessons from the COVID-19 Pandemic,” or face fines and penalties from the Joint Fee on Public Ethics (JCOPE), although the precise course of ahead is just not but clear.
On the Tuesday assembly, Republican Commissioner David McNamara learn out a listing of the explanation why Cuomo had violated the phrases of his settlement with JCOPE, together with that “state property, resources and personnel, including staff volunteers, were used in connection with the preparation, writing, editing and publication of the book,” which might be a violation of state ethics regulation.
By way of an lawyer, Cuomo promised to combat the fee’s resolution. Cuomo has repeatedly denied any state assets had been used to put in writing his memoir, and that workers who labored on the guide had been volunteers.
“We look forward to vigorously contesting in court any efforts JCOPE makes to enforce this baseless and improper decision,” mentioned Jim McGuire, an lawyer who’s dealing with Cuomo’s authorized points surrounding his guide deal, that are substantial and ongoing, although Cuomo resigned in August.
There’s an open state lawyer normal inquiry, a soon-to-be-completed state meeting judiciary committee investigation, and a probe from JCOPE itself on the way it dealt with the guide approval course of. Federal investigators are additionally reportedly analyzing the guide payout in addition to a part of their investigation that appears at Cuomo’s dealing with of nursing houses in the course of the pandemic.
A spokesperson for the Joint Fee on Public Ethics confirmed the vote and declined to remark additional on what penalties Cuomo would possibly face.
JCOPE workers lawyer Martin Levine signed off on Cuomo’s unique request to put in writing a memoir on July 17, 2020, with out the matter ever being heard or voted on by the JCOPE commissioners, one thing that Republican appointees have roundly criticized since.
The phrases of the deal and the way a lot Cuomo made out of it had been withheld from the general public for 9 months, and finally launched by way of freedom of knowledge requests and Cuomo’s tax returns, which he let members of the press assessment in April.
Levine’s approval explicitly barred Cuomo from utilizing any state assets in the course of the modifying and drafting course of, as New York state ethics regulation prohibits public officers from utilizing state assets for private profit and from receiving cash or providers which may affect their official conduct in workplace.
Nonetheless, studies later emerged that senior- and junior-level staffers had labored on the guide, reinvigorating efforts amongst Republicans on the JCOPE fee to get the approval revoked. These members of the fee had argued Cuomo had did not stay as much as the phrases of the fee’s approval.
Ethics consultants have additionally raised a bigger query about whether or not Cuomo’s dedication to safe a guide deal in the summertime of 2020 influenced his administration’s dealing with of the pandemic.
Cuomo’s administration refused to launch the entire loss of life rely of nursing residence residents who died from COVID for almost a 12 months and had his administration edit an official well being division report back to deflate the loss of life rely. That well being division report was printed 4 days earlier than Cuomo spoke publicly about writing a memoir for the primary time.
Two prior efforts, introduced forth by Republicans JCOPE commissioners in October and September, to revoke Cuomo’s guide deal each did not safe sufficient votes from Democrats to seal the deal. However Tuesday’s vote was near unanimous.
The only no vote got here from William Fisher, certainly one of two remaining Cuomo appointees to the fee.
John Kaehny, the chief director of the nice authorities group Reinvent Albany laid out a number of doable paths that JCOPE attorneys may take now that the guide permission had been rescinded. The fee may order Cuomo to pay Crown Publishing again and sue him if he refuses. Or attorneys may high quality Cuomo for the quantity he made on the guide and reclaim the cash on behalf of the state. Both approach, Kaehny mentioned, a protracted and acrimonious court docket battle is prone to ensue.
“The long and short of it is this is nowhere near done,” Kaehny mentioned.
Past the precise vote, Kaehny mentioned there was a symbolism within the close to unanimous vote in opposition to Cuomo, from an entity that lengthy deferred to his needs. Republicans and Democrats appointed by the state legislature and Governor Kathy Hochul all voted collectively.
“Albany agrees on one thing, at least,” Kaehny mentioned. “They don’t want Andrew Cuomo back.”