N.Y. Attorney General Opens Probe into Cuomo’s Pandemic Book

New York state Attorney General Letitia James has opened a criminal probe into whether Andrew Cuomo improperly used government resources when the Democratic governor wrote and promoted a leadership book during the pandemic, following a request by the state’s comptroller.

The attorney general’s office is looking into whether any public resources were used in the development and promotion of the governor’s book “American Crisis: Leadership Lessons from the Covid-19 Pandemic,” according to a person familiar with the investigation, who asked not to be identified because they’re not authorized to speak about it.

Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli called for a criminal probe in an April 13 letter reviewed by Bloomberg News. He asked for the investigation to focus on the potential crimes of using government employees or resources for personal purposes, private business or other non-governmental business during the drafting, editing, sale and promotion of his book.

“I further confer to you the authority to prosecute the person or persons believed to have committed the same and any crime or offense arising out of such investigation,” Dinapoli said in the letter.

The New York Times last month detailed how Cuomo used staffers and aides to work on his book. The newspaper previously reported the letter and investigation.

Asked at a Monday briefing whether staffers worked on his book, Cuomo said, “some people volunteered to help on the book.” He said he wanted to make sure people mentioned in the manuscript were “OK with the mention” and make sure it “represented what they did and the facts correctly.”

Cuomo declined to respond when asked how much money he made on the book. He said the public would be able to glimpse his finances when he releases his personal income taxes.

“You will see everything you want to see in the personal income taxes,” he said. “I’ve released my personal income taxes for the past 20 years. And I will do that again this year.”

Cuomo is already under investigation by lawyers overseen by James over sexual misconduct allegations and claims of workplace impropriety, which he has denied. The Assembly is also conducting a wide-ranging impeachment investigation over Cuomo’s conduct. Separately, Cuomo is facing a federal inquiry into his administration’s reporting of Covid deaths of nursing home residents.

Cuomo’s approval rating has sunk to its lowest point since he took office in 2011, with only 40% of New York registered voters having a favorable view of him, according to a Siena College poll out Monday.

“The idea there was criminality involved here is patently absurd on its face and is just the furthering of a political pile-on,” said Cuomo senior adviser Rich Azzopardi. “Any state official who volunteered to assist on this project did so on his or her own time and without the use of state resources. To the extent a document was printed, it was incidental.”

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