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Effort to recover Cuomo book money runs into legal snags

There are questions about the legality of the Joint Commission on Public Ethics (JCOPE) order that former Governor Andrew Cuomo pay back the $5.1 million he received for his book, “American Crisis: Leadership Lessons from the COVID-19 Pandemic.

DiSanto Propane (Billboard)

NY State of Politics reports Counsel Larry Schimmel with the Attorney General’s office sent a letter to Attorney General Letitia James questioning the legality of the JCOPE order that the money be paid to the Attorney General’s office, saying “there does not appear to be the statutory authority to order payment directly to the attorney general or for the attorney general to determine the recipients of such payments.” The letter also said JCOPE needs to have a “substantial basis investigation” before it can turn collection of the money over to the Attorney General’s office.

Cuomo is accused of misusing state resources in writing the book, including having state employees work on it while on the clock. The former Governor has reportedly put $1 million into a trust fund for his daughters and gave the rest to charity. The JCOPE order gives Cuomo 30 days to pay the money to the Attorney General’s office. An attorney for Cuomo calls the ruling unconstitutional.