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Appeals court rules state ethics commission unconstitutional in Cuomo case

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  • Staff Report 

A New York appeals court declared Thursday that the state commission investigating ethical violations was created unconstitutionally, siding with former Governor Andrew Cuomo in a legal battle over his $5 million book earnings. The state Commission on Ethics and Lobbying in Government had been trying to make Cuomo forfeit the money he received for a book on his administration’s COVID-19 response, arguing that it has the authority to enforce ethical standards.


The Appellate Division of the State Supreme Court unanimously agreed with a lower court’s decision that the commission’s formation violated the principles of separation of powers outlined in the state constitution. The ruling emphasized that the commission’s independent status conflicted with the executive branch’s control, which traditionally oversees such enforcement.

Following the decision, the ethics commission announced plans to appeal to the state’s highest court and requested that the ruling be stayed during ongoing litigation. This ongoing legal dispute comes after Cuomo resigned in 2021 amid allegations of sexual harassment, which he has denied. The ethics commission, established in 2022, aimed to bolster public trust in government following the scandal.