New York AG gets authority to conduct criminal probe into Cuomo’s book

ALBANY, N.Y. — State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli has granted state Attorney General Tish James the authority to conduct a criminal investigation into Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s book deal.

“Allegations have recently emerged that public resources may have been used in the development and promotion of the Governor’s book, ‘American Crisis: Leadership Lessons from the COVID-19 Pandemic,” DiNapoli wrote in a letter dated April 13.

Published reports indicated that the governor received an offer in excess of $4 million for the book. He has declined to say how much he was paid, adding that the information will be on his income tax return, which he will make public.

The comptroller asked James to investigate any “indictable offense … including, but not limited to, in the drafting, editing, sale and promotion of the Governor’s book and any related financial or business transactions.” He gave James “the authority to prosecute the person or persons believed” to have committed “any crime or offense” relating to the book.

The letter was first reported by the New York Times.

“We have officially jumped the shark — the idea there was criminality involved here is patently absurd on its face and is just the furthering of a political pile-on,” said Rich Azzopardi, a spokesperson for Cuomo. “Any state official who volunteered to assist on this project did so on his or her own time and without the use of state resources. To the extent a document was printed, it was incidental. This is Albany politics at its worst — both the comptroller and the attorney general have spoken to people about running for governor and it is unethical to wield criminal referral authority to further political self-interest.”

Numerous stories in recent weeks have detailed the overlap between state employees working for Cuomo and those involved in producing the book, which was released last fall. On at least two occasions, staff members were told to print drafts at the state Capitol and bring them to the Executive Mansion. After the book was published, staff reportedly helped mail autographed copies to the governor’s fans.

Cuomo and his team have repeatedly said that all staff work on the book was entirely voluntary and thus allowed by state law.

The attorney general usually needs a referral from some other official in order to investigate alleged misdeeds committed by office-holders like the governor. James previously received a referral from Cuomo to launch a probe into the allegations of his sexual harassment.

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Gov. Andrew Cuomo
Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks during a news conference. | Mary Altaffer/AP Photo

ALBANY, N.Y. — State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli has granted state Attorney General Tish James the authority to conduct a criminal investigation into Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s book deal.

“Allegations have recently emerged that public resources may have been used in the development and promotion of the Governor’s book, ‘American Crisis: Leadership Lessons from the COVID-19 Pandemic,” DiNapoli wrote in a letter dated April 13.

Published reports indicated that the governor received an offer in excess of $4 million for the book. He has declined to say how much he was paid, adding that the information will be on his income tax return, which he will make public.

The comptroller asked James to investigate any “indictable offense … including, but not limited to, in the drafting, editing, sale and promotion of the Governor’s book and any related financial or business transactions.” He gave James “the authority to prosecute the person or persons believed” to have committed “any crime or offense” relating to the book.

The letter was first reported by the New York Times.

“We have officially jumped the shark — the idea there was criminality involved here is patently absurd on its face and is just the furthering of a political pile-on,” said Rich Azzopardi, a spokesperson for Cuomo. “Any state official who volunteered to assist on this project did so on his or her own time and without the use of state resources. To the extent a document was printed, it was incidental. This is Albany politics at its worst — both the comptroller and the attorney general have spoken to people about running for governor and it is unethical to wield criminal referral authority to further political self-interest.”

Numerous stories in recent weeks have detailed the overlap between state employees working for Cuomo and those involved in producing the book, which was released last fall. On at least two occasions, staff members were told to print drafts at the state Capitol and bring them to the Executive Mansion. After the book was published, staff reportedly helped mail autographed copies to the governor’s fans.

Cuomo and his team have repeatedly said that all staff work on the book was entirely voluntary and thus allowed by state law.

The attorney general usually needs a referral from some other official in order to investigate alleged misdeeds committed by office-holders like the governor. James previously received a referral from Cuomo to launch a probe into the allegations of his sexual harassment.

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