The New York Joint Commission on Public Ethics – the state's watchdog panel – on Tuesday ordered ex-Democrat Gov. Andrew Cuomo to return to the state the $5.1 million in profits he received from his book deal.
The resolution was approved by the commission in a vote of 12-1, one month after members voted to revoke its prior approval of Cuomo's request to earn income outside his taxpayer salary from the book.
JCOPE revoked its approval after concluding that the disgraced ex-governor had violated his commitment not to use state resources or government employees to help put together the book: "American Crisis: Leadership Lessons from the COVID-19 Pandemic."
David McNamara, a state Senate Republican appointee to the panel, said that Cuomo now lacks "the legal authority to engage in outside activity and receive compensation in regard to the book," because of the committee's rescinded approval of the situation.
The panel found that any book profits should be forfeited to New York Attorney General Letitia James. Her office will then decide where the profits should be distributed.
"It is ordered that by no later than 30 days from the date of this resolution, Gov. Cuomo pay over to the attorney general of the State of New York an amount equal to the compensation paid to him for his outside activities related to the book," reads the resolution.
Jim McGuire, an attorney representing Cuomo, said of the resolution, "JCOPE’s actions today are unconstitutional, exceed its own authority and appear to be driven by political interests rather than the facts and the law. Should they seek to enforce this action, we’ll see them in court."
The book deal is additionally being investigated by James' office, the FBI, and the Brooklyn U.S. Attorney's Office.