Work on Cuomo pandemic book was ‘not voluntary’: Assembly impeachment report

A number of staffers stated their work on former Governor Andrew Cuomo’s pandemic-era memoir “American Crisis: Leadership Lessons from the COVID-19 Pandemic” was not voluntary and that it compromised their skill to assist New York’s efforts to stem the COVID-19 outbreak, in line with the bombshell State Assembly’s impeachment investigation report launched Monday, Nov. 22.

The legislative chamber’s probe for the primary time supplies a extra detailed image of how Government Chamber employees — from junior workers all the way in which as much as Cuomo’s internal circle — have been deployed through the peak of the pandemic to work on the book that’s slated to web the disgraced ex-governor at the very least $5.2 million.

“The former Governor utilized the time of multiple state employees, as well as his own, to further his personal gain during a global pandemic – a time during which the former Governor touted the ‘around-the-clock’ state response to the crisis,” reads the 45-page report launched by the legislative chamber’s Judiciary Committee.

Representatives for Cuomo have repeatedly maintained that any work on the book was voluntary, an argument longtime spokesman Wealthy Azzopardi repeated in response to the revelations Monday.

“Staff who volunteered took time off, evidencing that they were volunteering and not on state time,” Azzopardi stated in an announcement. “Any suggestion to the contrary is Assembly hype.”

The brand new findings ready by white-shoe regulation agency Davis Polk & Wardwell, LLP, element what number of state workers spent hours on the book, from gathering data, drafting parts, enhancing and reviewing manuscripts, and selling it forward of its launch in October 2020.

Officers within the report referred to the work on the book as “no different” from some other task they obtained working for the Government Chamber through the pandemic.

“The state official explained that Book-related assignments were given by superiors and were expected to be completed like any other task,” reads the report. “He further explained that the work was not voluntary, as he was never asked to volunteer and was not aware of other officials being asked to volunteer.”

One high-ranking Government Chamber official known as “the key point of contact” labored with writer Penguin Random Home all through the method and despatched or obtained at the very least 1,000 emails concerning the book from July till December of final yr.

The report doesn’t immediately identify this official however quotes Cuomo from his book referenced within the doc describe the senior state worker as “the quarterback on my team and [] responsible for managing all the pieces,” who “never took a day off,” which matches a line referencing Melissa DeRosa, the previous governor’s secretary and high aide.

One other senior member of the chamber logged 300 emails forwards and backwards in regards to the book throughout that timeframe, and Cuomo’s internal circle roped in junior employees in June or July to compile supplies for the book, which took 5 staff a number of hours to finish.

“Junior staff members were asked by senior Executive Chamber officials to perform tasks that were related to the Book as part of their regular course of work,” the report reads.

One other senior state official complained in a textual content message to a colleague that work on the book was “compromising” the power to work on COVID-19 points.

The writer first reached out to Cuomo’s literary agent to see if he was focused on writing a book on March 19, in the future earlier than the governor ordered all non-essential companies to shut down below his so-called PAUSE order, because of the virus’s fast unfold.

On July 1, Cuomo’s agent instructed the writer that the governor had been working on a book about his experiences through the first six months of the pandemic and had already penned 70,000 phrases.

Per week later, Cuomo’s workforce started auctioning off a contract with publishers and Penguin Random Home emerged on high, guaranteeing him $5.2 million in royalty advances, together with $3.2 million by the point of publication in October of that yr and one other $2.08 million unfold out over the subsequent two years.

He may additionally reap a further $1.25 million “refresher bonus” if the book reached sure earnings targets.

That was all earlier than Cuomo bought permission from the state’s ethics oversight panel the Joint Fee on Public Ethics (JCOPE) on July 17 to even write the book, which got here with 9 circumstances, together with that he not use state assets to work on it. 

JCOPE final week rescinded its personal letter of approval, saying Cuomo violated the phrases of the settlement. 

Cuomo spokesman Azzopardi claimed the report was “hypocritical,” as a result of political staffers typically volunteer to work on campaigns, and the rep referred to as on the members of the Judiciary Committee to declare which of their workers did double responsibility.

“Will the Judiciary committee members that raised the issue disclose their staff members who volunteer to work on their campaigns and if not why not,” Azzopardi stated in an announcement.

Nevertheless, one official explicitly contrasted previous work on a Cuomo marketing campaign from working on the book.

“The senior official had taken several weeks of vacation time and moved to a separate office to volunteer on one of the former Governor’s prior political campaigns,” reads the report. “In contrast, Book-related tasks were performed at times during the course of regular work hours and were not segregated in any way.”

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