Why the Attorney General blocked a move to collect profits from Cuomo’s book

But the attorney general’s office told the ethics committee last week that before the collection of profits could take place, the commission would have to include an explicit finding that Mr. Cuomo had violated the law and would also have to include an accounting of the benefits. are owed, and why. This conclusion could only come after an investigation and a hearing process during which both parties could present evidence. The commission decided to open such an investigation, but its conclusion could take years.

Commissioner Gary Lavine, a Republican appointee who initiated the decision to recoup the book’s profits, defended the commission’s legal strategy and accused Ms James of intentionally evading responsibility. “I believe the AG doesn’t want to be involved,” he said.

“Since its inception, JCOPE has shied away from its responsibilities and taken no meaningful action on any issue concerning ethics, and this is only the latest example,” replied Fabien Levy, spokesperson for Ms James. . “There are rules and laws in this state, and unlike JCOPE, the Attorney General’s office follows and enforces those laws universally, not just where appropriate.”

In its letter, the attorney general’s office said the commission’s order was “premature” and ordered the panel “to exhaust its own efforts of collection activity” before returning the case again.

The position of the attorney general’s office places him in an odd alliance with Mr Cuomo, who has continued to accuse Ms James of carrying out a politically motivated investigation against him. Last week, Mr. Cuomo’s spokesman, Richard Azzopardi, said Ms. James’ efforts were made as a “political stepping stone to impeach Governor Cuomo so she could run for office”.

The investigation led to a report on August 3 concluding that Mr. Cuomo had sexually harassed 11 women; a week later, Mr. Cuomo resigned as governor. Ms James declared her candidacy for governor in October but stepped down this month, saying she wanted to continue her work as attorney general.

“It is not at all surprising that the anarchy of JCOPE’s latest illegal action should be recognized as such,” said Jim McGuire, Mr. Cuomo’s attorney, who added that the commission had “violated the rights fundamental constitutional rights and flagrantly exceeded its statutory authority.”