Watchdog group files complaint over Gov. Cuomo’s COVID memoir

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A national good government group filed an ethics complaint against Gov. Andrew Cuomo with the New York State Board of Elections over his pandemic memoir on Thursday, arguing that he used campaign funds to promote the book. 

The Center for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, D.C. alleges in a 16-page complaint that Cuomo broke state campaign spending laws to promote the October 2020 release of ‘American Crisis: Leadership Lessons from the COVID-19 Pandemic” through social media and his campaign’s email account. 

“The law is clear that you cannot spend campaign funds for your own personal benefit,” said CREW President Noah Bookbinder in a statement.

“Because the money spent on book promotions appears to have been for the exclusive personal benefit of Governor Cuomo, he needs to be investigated.” 

Cover image of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo's latest book, "American Crisis: Leadership Lessons From the Covid-19 Pandemic."
This is the cover image of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s latest book, “American Crisis: Leadership Lessons From the Covid-19 Pandemic.”
Crown via AP

It was revealed Wednesday that Cuomo enlisted staffers to help with the writing of his book, and was offered a high of a $4 million advance by Crown Publishing at the time.

Crown has since halted promotion of the novel, in the midst of a federal investigation into the governor’s coronavirus policy concerning nursing homes. 

CREW President Noah Bookbinder
“The law is clear that you cannot spend campaign funds for your own personal benefit,” said CREW President Noah Bookbinder in a statement in relation to Cuomo’s memoir.
CREW Facebook

Cuomo has said in the past that he would donate a portion of the book sales to a “coronavirus-related charity,” but has not specifically named a group.

Governor Andrew Cuomo's book "American Crisis" seen on display at Barnes and Nobles in Albany on October 13, 2020.
Governor Andrew Cuomo’s book “American Crisis” seen on display at Barnes and Nobles in Albany on October 13, 2020.
Bernadette Hogan

Details pertaining to book payments and any contributions to charitable organizations will be released in the governor’s tax returns, expected to be released in May.

Bookbinder added: “There is no question that the campaign promoted the book. An email blast from the campaign about the book directed supporters to an Amazon page to order it. The bottom of the email clearly states it was “Paid for by Andrew Cuomo for New York, Inc.”

Cuomo and Melissa DeRosa during a daily COVID-19 briefing on May 26, 2020.
Cuomo speaks during a daily COVID-19 briefing on May 26, 2020.
JUSTIN LANE/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

“The law only works when it applies to everyone, regardless of power or party,” said Bookbinder. “Governor Cuomo has operated in several spheres as though rules don’t apply to him. This appears to be another example, and it’s one that must be investigated.”

Andrew Cuomo holds a mask
It was revealed on March 31, 2021 that Cuomo enlisted staffers to help with the writing of his book, and was offered a high of a $4 million advance by Crown Publishing at the time.
Spencer Platt/Getty Images

A representative for Cuomo’s campaign was not available for immediate comment.



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