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Ethics commission revokes prior approval of ex-Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s book deal, threatening $5.1 million

ALBANY, New York (WABC) — Commissioners on New York state’s ethics commission voted 12-1 Tuesday to revoke the body’s prior approval of ex-Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s $5.1 million book deal.

The members of the state Joint Commission on Public Ethics, known as JCOPE, rescinded the approval granted last year for Cuomo to write “American Crisis: Leadership Lessons from the COVID-19 Pandemic.”

Cuomo will have the opportunity to apply for a new approval.

RELATED | ‘Not even feasible’: Transcripts in Cuomo investigation show ex-governor’s defiance

If there is no new approval, commissioners could then begin the process of seeking to force Cuomo to repay millions in profits to his book publisher, Crown New York.

Cuomo spokesperson Rich Azzopardi released the following statement blasting the decision.

“These JCOPE members are acting outside the scope of their authority and are carrying the water of the politicians who appointed them. It is the height of hypocrisy for (Governor Kathy) Hochul and the legislature’s appointees to take this position, given that these elected officials routinely use their own staff for political and personal assistance on their own time. This is the 3rd time JCOPE has attempted to rescind their own approval, and this amounts to nothing more than Albany political corruption at its worst. JCOPE wants to rescind an approval that was relied upon to play a political game and that means a JCOPE opinion cannot be relied upon by anyone and is subject to political winds. Our counsel’s request to JCOPE was clear, saying ‘no government resources’ would be used — consistent with that representation, people who volunteered on this project did so on their own time. Furthermore, the governor cannot be held responsible for internal decisions over recusals and approvals made by JCOPE. They truly are a J-JOKE.”

RELATED | From “America’s governor” to the scandal that led to Cuomo’s fall

Cuomo has been under criminal investigation into whether he used state resources to write and promote the book, which Azzopardi repeatedly denied, saying anyone who helped with the project “did so on their own time” and that Cuomo’s office made every effort to ensure no state resources were used.

Before writing the book, the former governor received permission from ethics commissioners with conditions he not write on state time and that no state property, personnel or other resources could be used.

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