JCOPE releases investigative report into Cuomo book deal

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ALBANY, NY (WTEN) — The state’s Joint Commission on Public Ethics has released findings under which former Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s book deal was struck. The book deal benefited Cuomo by $5.1 million.

JCOPE was created in 2011 to oversee ethics and lobbying in New York. It recently held its last meeting. Law firm Hogan Lovells has investigated the commission’s approval allowing Cuomo to write the book “American Crisis: Leadership Lessons From the COVID-19 Pandemic.”

The approval came after Cuomo’s attorney told the commission he agreed not to use any state employees or resources and would write it “entirely in his spare time.” But then complaints surfaced that Cuomo DID used state property, resources and employees to help write and publish the book.

However, the former spokesman for the ex-governor, Rich Azzopardi says otherwise. In a statement, he says: ‘As we have always said, on the advice of an attorney, all staff who volunteered for the book worked on their own time – and as finally acknowledged today’ Today we provided all the information JCOPE needed for approval.”

But the report says JCOPE should have acknowledged the quote “that there was a strong possibility that the Governor would need to use state resources to complete the book in time for release in the fall… There were many questions that should have been asked prior to approving the July 10 application, but were not.

Assembly Minority Leader Will Barclay says the report is proof that the JCOPE and the new entity that will replace it are not politically balanced. “These are democratically controlled entities and I’ve always said the way we’re going to have real ethics reform is to make any overweight committee or commission bipartisan, because Republicans better hold Democrats accountable and Democrats have an interest in holding Republicans accountable,” Barclay said.

The chief says that under the new commission, there will be 11 members in total. Nine Democrats and two Republicans. He says the state still has a long way to go to implement true accountability and ethics here in New York. The link to the report has recently been disabled but can be found here.

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