Cuomo’s contract with publisher Penguin Random House for “American Crisis: Leadership Lessons from the Covid-19 Pandemic” awarded him $3.12 million, with an additional $2 million to be paid to him over two years, according to his senior adviser Rich Azzopardi. The Democratic governor donated $500,000 from his book deal to the United Way of New York State for pandemic relief and vaccination efforts and put the remaining money in a trust for his three daughters, Azzopardi said in a statement to CNN.
The governor filed his 2020 financial disclosure, obtained by CNN, with the New York State Joint Commission on Public Ethics. The revelation follows a request last month from the New York state comptroller to the state attorney general, Letitia James, asking that her office investigate allegations that Cuomo used state resources in the “development and promotion” of his book.
The letter to James asks her to specifically investigate “indictable” offenses related to the “use of property, services or resources of the state for personal purposes, private business purposes or other compensated non-governmental purposes” related to the drafting, editing, sale and promotion of Cuomo’s book and any related financial or business transactions.
“We won’t comment further on an ongoing investigation at this time,” James’ spokesman said at the time.
Azzopardi told CNN in a statement about the book last month: “The idea there was criminality involved here is patently absurd on its face and is just the furthering of a political pile-on.”
“This is Albany politics at its worst — 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,” he said.
But even before the probe, Cuomo’s book about leadership during the pandemic faced a raft of backlash after a top aide said the administration delayed the release of data on Covid-19 deaths of long-term care facility residents because of concerns about a potential federal investigation by the Trump administration.
Cuomo has denied any suggestion of wrongdoing and forcefully defended his top aides.