Cuomo fires back at order forcing him to return $5.1M from COVID book: 'Political hypocrisy… at its worst'

Janice Dean: Commission was once ‘scared’ of Cuomo’s power

Fox News senior meteorologist on ethics panel ordering disgraced former New York governor to give up $5M in book profits.

Disgraced ex-New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo remained defiant amid the order he is facing to return the money he received from the book he wrote touting his leadership during the coronavirus pandemic. 

New York state’s Joint Commission on Public Ethics (JCOPE) voted 12-1 demanding the Democrat to give back the $5.1 million from the release of his memoir “American Crisis: Leadership Lessons from the COVID-19 Pandemic,” which was widely panned as an early victory lap of his response to the virus it was still killing thousands of Americans. 

Cuomo spokesman Rich Azzopardi issued a fiery statement defending his former boss.

“This is political hypocrisy and duplicity at its worst,” Azzopardi wrote. “Governor Cuomo received a JCOPE opinion and advice of counsel stating that government resources could not be used — and they weren’t — and any staffer who assisted in this project did so on their own time, which was reflected on their timesheets.” 

“If Speaker Heastie, Majority Leader Stewart-Cousins, and Governor Hochul’s JCOPE appointees have created a new standard whereby government staffers cannot volunteer their own time for non-governmental purposes, they should all be equally prosecuted under the same standard and be forced to repay the state for volunteer work on their re-election campaigns,” Azzopardi added. 

(Photo by Jeenah Moon/Getty Images  |  Amazon Books)

Cuomo will have to return $5.1 million earned to the state by next month after the watchdog ethics panel concluded that the governor had violated pledges not to use state resources or government staff to prepare the project. The resolution was drafted by commissioner David McNamara. Cuomo, McNamara said, now “lacked the legal authority to engage in outside activity and receive compensation in regard to the book,” the New York Post reported. 

New York Attorney General Letitia James is also investigating Cuomo’s book deal, along with the FBI, and the Brooklyn US Attorney’s Office.

The Democrat enjoyed much glowing media coverage at the onset of the pandemic, with even President Biden calling his work the “gold standard” of leadership. But in the following months, Cuomo and his administration were condemned for the thousands of COVID-related deaths in New York nursing homes. The governor then faced several allegations of sexual harassment by former staffers. He resigned in disgrace last August following a report from the state attorney general that concluded he had sexually harassed at least 11 women from 2013 to 2020.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo spoke during a news conference, Wednesday, June 23, 2021, in New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

Cuomo’s little brother, recently-ousted CNN anchor Chris Cuomo, was also wrapped up in the governor’s scandals. Documents revealed he had helped his older brother as an unofficial adviser and even used his media influence to try and dig up dirt on the governor’s accusers, in addition to spying on investigative journalists’ reports on the scandal. CNN fired Chris Cuomo after these revelations. 

Following Chris Cuomo’s firing, CNN discovered he, too, had fielded a second sexual harassment allegation following an accusation from her former ABC colleague Shelley Ross. 

Chris Cuomo, like his older brother, has also had recent troubles with his book. In the wake of his CNN controversies, HarperCollins canceled his forthcoming title, “Deep Denial.”

Fox News’ Cortney O’Brien contributed to this report. 

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