Disgraced ex-New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo appears to be laying the legal groundwork to challenge the order requiring him to return the money he made from his book that touts his leadership throughout the coronavirus pandemic.
Cuomo’s personal attorney, Jim McGuire on Wednesday sent an evidence preservation request to the New York state’s Joint Commission on Public Ethics (JCOPE), a month after they ordered the Democrat to pay back the $5.1 million from 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.
The JCOPE commission voted to rescind its initial approval for Cuomo to write the book after concluding that he 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.”
McGuire in the letter to the commission accused them of having “improper political” motivations for the resolutions, which he described as “arbitrary,” capricious” and in violation of “lawful procedure.”
“The former action, passing on the third attempt after two failed votes, reverses permission granted more than a year ago, placing into doubt the validity and stability of any past and future guidance issued by this state agency,” the memo reads.
“JCOPE’s actions support, at the very least, the reasonable conclusion that it has acted for improper political reasons,” McGuire wrote in the memo,” McGuire writes.
Cuomo has remained defiant, expressing no willingness to comply with the resolution. McGuire’s memo suggests the ex-governor is gearing up a legal battle to hold onto the proceeds. The commission gave Cuomo a 30-day window to pay “an amount equal to the compensation paid to him” to the office of state Attorney General Tish James.
New York residents blamed Cuomo and his administration for the thousands of COVID-related deaths in New York nursing homes throughout the pandemic. The governor later 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.