Cuomo to Get $5 Million Payment From Pandemic Leadership Book

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New York Governor Andrew Cuomo will get more than $5 million from a book he wrote during the pandemic that has attracted scrutiny for allegations he misused state resources, according to 2020 tax returns released Monday.

The lucrative contract boosted Cuomo’s net income more than fivefold to $1.5 million in 2020, from just over $280,000 in 2019, according to tax documents made available for reporters to view on Monday at the Capitol in Albany. The disclosure underscores the high financial stakes for Cuomo, 63, who has been accused of using staff and other resources to write, edit and market his book as New York was fighting back from being the U.S. epicenter of the pandemic.

Misconduct claims related to the book are under investigation by state Attorney General Letitia James, who is overseeing a separate probe into claims of sexual misconduct and harassment by several current and former employees. Cuomo, who has said any employee work on the book was voluntary, also faces an impeachment inquiry by the state Assembly.

Cuomo’s office declined to say whether the governor paid any staff members for work on the book and whether the contract had any claw-back clauses if the attorney general’s investigation finds any wrongdoing.

The contract for “American Crisis: Leadership Lessons from the Covid-19 Pandemic,” which was released in October by Crown Publishing Group, calls for payment of $3.1 million in the last taxable year and an additional $2 million over the following two years. That's significantly more than the $188,000 advance for his previous book, a memoir published around the start of his second term in 2014. It’s also substantially larger than the $500,000 advance that Politico said Vice President Kamala Harris got for her political memoir “The Truths We Hold” and the $300,000 Senator Elizabeth Warren got for her book, “This Fight Is Our Fight.”

In Cuomo’s latest book, the Democratic governor recounted how New York responded to Covid-19, tapping the truisms he cultivated over months of daily virus briefings that became must-see television and earned him an Emmy Award.

But in March, Bloomberg News reported that sales of Cuomo’s pandemic book dried up as investigations mounted over sexual-harassment allegations and accusations his administration deliberately covered up Covid-19 nursing-home deaths.

Sales saw a “precipitous drop,” according to Kristen McLean, an analyst at NPD Group, a market researcher. Just 300 copies of the book moved in February, marking the worst-performing month since its release, according to NPD. The book had sold more than 45,800 units since its mid-October release, NPD said.

Cuomo’s office said the third-term governor donated $500,000 of book proceeds to the United Way of New York State for Covid relief and vaccination efforts. The remaining $1 million was directed to a trust for his three daughters in equal shares, according to a letter from accountant PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP reviewed by Bloomberg News.

The governor paid $1.2 million in federal taxes and $303,000 in state taxes, according to the tax documents. His federal effective tax rate was 37.3% and the state effective rate was 8.8%, according to the documents.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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