ALBANY – An ethics council in the state of New York on Tuesday revoked the approval it gave former Gov. Andrew Cuomo to publish his 2020 memoir, a move the Democrat rejected as “the highlight of the hypocrisy.”
The revocation of the Joint Commission on Public Ethics will require Cuomo to reapply for authorization. If his application is rejected, the Board of Directors – known by the abbreviation JCOPE – could try to force the former governor to surrender the $ 5.1 million he was paid to write “American Crisis: Leadership Lessons from the Covid-19 Pandemic.”
The vote on Tuesday was conducted with relatively minimal discussion, 12-1. William Fisher, who was appointed to the commission by Cuomo, voted against.
“These JCOPE members are acting outside the confines of their authority and carrying the water from the politicians who have appointed them, Cuomo spokesman Rich Azzopardi said after the vote. “It simply came to our notice then [Gov. Kathy] “Hochul and the legislature’s designated persons to take this position, given that these elected representatives routinely use their own staff for political and personal assistance at their own time.”
Reports have surfaced in recent months that several state workers were helping the governor as he authored the memoirs. On at least two occasions, junior staff were asked to print pages from the draft Capitol and then deliver them to the Executive Mansion.
The ethics commissioners who have been pushing for recall since the summer have argued that it was okay in part because authorization was given by JCOPE staff and not the full commission.
They have also argued that Cuomo misrepresented how the book would be written – he “did not make it clear that government employees would volunteer,” one of the Senate GOP nominees said at a September meeting.
Cuomo’s administration has said that all this work was done on a voluntary basis or was de minimis.
“Our lawyer’s request to JCOPE was clear and said ‘no government resources’ would be used – in line with this representation, did people who volunteered for this project on their own time,” Azzopardi said in a statement. The vote “means nothing but Albany political corruption at its worst,” he said.