Ethics panel orders ex-Gov. Cuomo to forfeit proceeds from book deal

The sexual misconduct allegations that led to former Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s resignation was just one of several scandals that marked his term in office. Another notable controversy involved allegations that he improperly used state resources to complete a manuscript.

New reports show that a state ethics panel has voted to seize proceeds Cuomo earned from the associated book deal.

Majority votes to revoke approval

The then-governor received a lucrative deal last year for a book on leadership, which helps illustrate the steep fall from grace he has experienced since then.

In a 12-1 vote, the Joint Committee on Public Ethics ordered Cuomo to forfeit possession of the proceeds in the $5.1 million deal. Specifically, he was found to have violated prior pledges not to use state personnel or resources in writing the book.

Meanwhile, the book deal itself reportedly remains under investigation by Democratic state Attorney General Letitia James and the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Brooklyn.

As the Associated Press reported, Cuomo reached the deal with Crown Publishing Group in mid-2020 and the ethics committee voted last month to revoke its prior authorization.

The panel gave Cuomo 30 days to turn over the proceeds to the attorney general’s office.

“We’ll see them in court”

In his prior agreement, Cuomo promised to write the book “entirely” on his own time and without the assistance of state personnel or resources. Anyone representing the state who contributed to his book, he claimed, did so voluntarily and on their own time.

Faced with evidence of his apparent violations, the ethics committee has determined that the ex-governor “is not legally entitled to retain compensation paid to him, in any form, for his outside activities related to the book.”

Of course, actually collecting the money is easier said than done. For starters, Cuomo is reportedly not cooperating with the panel’s decision. Furthermore, he apparently does not even have the entire $5.1 million.

The publisher gave him $3.1 million upfront with the remainder to be paid later. Of those advance funds, he netted an estimated $1.5 million after taxes, of which $500,000 went to charity and the rest placed in a trust for his daughters.

An attorney for the disgraced former governor issued a statement denouncing the decision as “unconstitutional” and politically motivated, adding: “Should they seek to enforce this action, we’ll see them in court.”

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