Former New York Governor Andrew Cuomo won’t be forced to repay the state the $5 million he made in profits from his book on the COVID-19 pandemic — at least for now , according to a judge’s decision on Tuesday.
State Supreme Court Justice Denise Hartman of Albany declined to issue an injunction that would have forced Cuomo to write a check to the state, ruling that the defunct Joint Commission on Public Ethics, or JCOPE , did not follow the proper process before asking the court to intervene.
Under state law, JCOPE should have held a hearing allowing Cuomo to be heard, Hartman said.
“Allowing JCOPE to circumvent administrative procedures set forth in the statute would imply due process protections,” Hartman wrote in his opinion.
Tax records show Cuomo earned at least $5.1 million from the Crown Publishing Group for his 2020 book, “American Crisis,” which he wrote while still governor. The book recounts his efforts in the early days of the pandemic. Cuomo resigned in August 2021 amid sexual harassment complaints from 11 women, including nine of his staff, although he denies wrongdoing.
JCOPE staff initially granted Cuomo permission to write the book and profit from it, provided he followed specific rules such as avoiding the use of state resources while writing it. . But JCOPE commissioners later challenged the approval and found Cuomo was using state resources, including many hours of work on the book by members of his team — hours Cuomo’s team claims to be volunteers.
The ethics committee ultimately overturned the approval in December, seeking to force Cuomo to reimburse the state and forfeit future benefits.
Hartman’s decision leaves it up to the new state ethics officer, the Commission on Ethics and Lobbying in Government, to decide whether to properly pursue Cuomo’s accounting profits within the framework. of its own administrative process. The new commission was created by Governor Kathy Hochul and state lawmakers earlier this year to replace the much-maligned JCOPE, which has often been criticized for its ineffectiveness.
It was not immediately clear whether the new ethics commission intended to appeal the decision. A spokesperson could not immediately be reached for comment.
Representatives for Cuomo hailed the decision as a victory.
“JCOPE’s utter lawlessness in its treatment of Governor Cuomo has been exposed and the rule of law has prevailed,” Cuomo’s attorney Rita Glavin said in a statement. “JCOPE’s conduct was disgraceful, illegal and a waste of taxpayers’ money.”