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JCOPE releases final report detailing approval of then-Governor Andrew Cuomo’s $5.1 million book deal

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo
NYS governor's office
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo

In its last order of business before disbanding, the New York State Joint Commission on Public Ethics has voted to release an internal report that details its approval of then-Governor Andrew Cuomo’s $5.1 million book deal about his leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The deal came under fire after the Democrat was accused of sexual harassment by multiple women in 2021. The accusations ultimately led to his resignation after a state attorney general’s report found the women to be credible, and also found Cuomo used government staffers to help write the book. Cuomo says the employees were volunteering their time on the project.

JCOPE’s internal report released shortly after the vote alleges Cuomo misled the commission by using staffers and mischaracterized the subject of the book, which they thought would be a continuation of his last memoir and not about the pandemic. Following public criticism, Cuomo was ordered to forfeit proceeds last December. Cuomo sued the ethics commission in response.

JCOPE is being disbanded after more than a decade this month. It is being replaced with a new 11-member Commission on Ethics and Lobbying in Government backed by Governor Kathy Hochul and approved by the legislature this year.

In a statement, Cuomo spokesman Rich Azzopardi said: “As we said all along, on advice of counsel all staff who volunteered on the book worked on their own time — and as finally acknowledged today, we provided any and all information that JCOPE required for approval. There is some poetry to the fact that this feeble stunt — authored by the very law firm that is representing JJOKE in our lawsuit — is the last act from this incompetent biased, score settling dinosaur of a bureaucracy.”
Meanwhile, Governor Kathy Hochul announced her three nominees for the new Commission on Ethics in Lobbying and Government. The commission will include nominees from the governor, state Senate, Assembly, state comptroller and state attorney general, all of whom must be approved by law school deans. Hochul, a Democrat, nominated New York City’s longest tenured Corporation Counsel, Michael Cardozo. He led the department from 2002 to 2013. She also nominated Frederick Davie, a senior strategic advisor to the president at the Union Theological Seminary in New York City.