Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-NY) is facing yet another investigation, this time over his alleged use of state resources to write his pandemic memoir, “American Crisis: Leadership Lessons from the Covid-19 Pandemic,” which portrayed him as a hero despite New York seeing more deaths than all but one other state (California).
The New York Times reported Monday that the New York State attorney general has opened an investigation into Cuomo’s alleged use of state resources to write and promote the book, following allegations from government staffers that they were told to work on the book. Cuomo has insisted that the staffers “volunteered” for the project, with senior adviser Richard Azzopardi telling the Times earlier this month that the staffers “volunteered on this project” using their free time. Forget the power dynamics involved in whether or not the staffers truly could volunteer.
New York State Attorney General Letitia James opened the latest investigation in Cuomo, after receiving a referral letter from State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli. Cuomo accused James and DiNapoli, both Democrats, of trying to sabotage him in order to boost their own political futures.
“We have officially jumped the shark — the idea there was criminality involved here is patently absurd on its face and is just the furthering of a political pile-on,” Azzopardi told the Times this week.
“This is Albany politics at its worst,” Azzopardi continued. “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.”
As The Daily Wire previously reported, Cuomo’s aides worked to secure a $4 million advance to write the book while also pressuring the state Health Department to alter a report showing just how poorly Cuomo handled the coronavirus pandemic in nursing homes.
“An impending Health Department report threatened to disclose a far higher number of nursing home deaths related to the coronavirus than the Cuomo administration had previously made public. Ms. [Melissa] DeRosa and other top aides expressed concern about the higher death toll, and, after their intervention, the number — which had appeared in the second sentence of the report — was removed from the final version,” the Times reported earlier this month. “The revisions occurred as the governor was on the brink of a huge payoff: a book deal that ended with a high offer of more than $4 million, according to people with knowledge of the book’s bidding process.”
Another of Cuomo’s top aides, Stephanie Benton, was directed to ask assistants to print portions of the manuscript’s draft and bring them to the governor’s mansion. On one occasion, the request came on the same day that DeRosa gathered other top advisers to discuss the Health Department draft report that could crush the governor’s image.
One anonymous staffer, who feared retaliation for speaking out, told the Times she and others were asked to help type the book or transfer Cuomo’s notes, which he sometimes composed by dictating into his cellphone.
Staffers said their work wasn’t voluntary, The Daily Wire’s Ian Haworth reported.
This is the fourth major investigation into Cuomo’s administration. He faces a federal inquiry into his handling of the coronavirus pandemic, a state investigation into numerous sexual misconduct and assault allegations against the governor, and a State Assembly inquiry into those allegations.