Even though Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-NY) was paid $5 million for his book about alleged pandemic leadership and is about to host a $10,000-a-person fundraiser for his upcoming election bid, New York taxpayers are footing the bill for his legal defense.
The New York Post reported that taxpayers are paying $900 an hour for Cuomo’s lead defense lawyer, who is defending the embattled governor from multiple allegations of sexual harassment, allegations that he used staffers to write the book about his handling of the coronavirus pandemic, and allegations that he and his staff attempted to deceive the public by hiding the true number of nursing home deaths that occurred after Cuomo’s administration mandated nursing homes accept COVID-positive patients. The costs for Cuomo’s lengthy defense tab total $2.5 million.
“The $2.5 million deal, revealed in a contract made public through a Freedom of Information Request by The Post, was struck even though Cuomo sold the rights to his coronavirus memoir for $5.1 million and has around $17 million in his campaign war chest,” the Post reported. “The three-term Democrat is also holding a $10,000-a-head fundraiser later this month amid an ongoing impeachment probe by the state Assembly’s Judiciary Committee.”
Cuomo, who also is paid $225,000 a year — the highest paid governor in the country — defended his use of taxpayer money to cover his legal bills.
“The state — the way it works is the Executive Chamber has retained the counsel and that is a state expense,” Cuomo said at a recent news conference, according to the Post. “That has been [the case] in every investigation. So that’s where we are now.”
At the press conference, Cuomo was asked if he was paying for any additional attorneys with his own money or from his campaign fund, to which he responded, “Not at this time.”
The Post spoke to Common Cause New York executive director Susan Lerner, who said Cuomo “should be holding fundraisers in the middle of an ongoing investigation to pay off his legal fees — not to pad his war chest.”
“As Common Cause/NY has previously recommended, politicians who are subject to civil and/or criminal investigation should refrain from paying for their defense with either tax-dollars or campaign funds, and instead set up a Legal Defense Fund,” Lerner added. “That way, they can transparently raise money from willing donors.”
As The Daily Wire has previously reported, Cuomo faces numerous investigations for his actions as governor, including a federal inquiry into his handling of the coronavirus pandemic, a state investigation into numerous sexual misconduct and assault allegations against the governor, a State Assembly inquiry into those allegations, and a state investigation into whether Cuomo made his staffers write his pandemic book for him. Cuomo and a senior adviser have insisted the aides “volunteered” to work on his book, but several staffers said their work wasn’t voluntary. It’s also difficult to imagine they really faced a choice, given Cuomo’s position of power over them.