"American Crisis: Leadership Lessons from the COVID-19 Pandemic," a book written during the first few months of the pandemic, will earn Gov. Andrew Cuomo approximately $5.1 million, according to information in the governor's tax filings released Monday.
The New York governor reported earnings of $3.21 million last year for the book, with additional $1 million payments expected over the next two years. The governor's communications director said Cuomo kept $1.53 million last year after expenses and taxes.
Approximately one-third of those funds were reportedly donated to the United Way of New York. The remaining earnings, $1,037,508, were to be placed in a trust for his three daughters.
"[The governor] is giving the remainder in a trust for his three daughters equally who worked with the Governor during this pandemic and did what he calls ‘tireless and effective work for all New Yorkers’ and gave him ‘the strength and love to make it through the crisis every day,'" Rich Azzopardi, his communications director, said Monday.
The governor has repeatedly dodged questions at his coronavirus briefings in recent months in relation to his book deal, specifically the funds he was set to receive, in addition to other accusations of wrongdoing. At most briefings he said the financial information would come at the release of his tax filing, which are typically made public.
Once praised for his response to the global pandemic, often in direct contrast to the effectiveness of the federal response under former President Donald Trump, Cuomo too has come under fire. Following a spike in approval and Emmy for his daily briefings, the governor has been the subject of countless allegations of misconduct from current and former staffers, in addition to claims he misused state resources to complete his book.
New York state's comptroller has formally asked the New York state attorney general's office to look into whether Cuomo committed an indictable offense related to his book, according to a letter Thomas DiNapoli's office sent to Letitia James last month.
Specifically, the letter referred to allegations that "public resources may have been used in the development of the governor's book."
A spokesperson for James, whose office is conducting a separate independent investigation into sexual harassment allegations against the governor, confirmed receipt of the referral but would not comment further on an "ongoing investigation."
"Some people volunteered to review the book. You look at the people who are mentioned in the book, I wanted to make sure they were ok with the book, that it represented what they did and represented the facts," Cuomo said in April.
Azzopardi has previously dismissed the idea of an investigation as a political stunt.
“We have officially jumped the shark,” he said in a statement. “The idea there was criminality involved here is patently absurd on its face and is just the furthering of a political pile-on. 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.”
Cuomo received permission from state ethics commissioners last year to write his book — with conditions.
He had to write the book on “his own time and not on state time,” according to state ethics rules. And, “no state property, personnel or other resources” could be used.
Yet, several people who work for the state did work on the book, including Secretary to the Governor Melissa DeRosa and the Director of Governor’s Offices Stephanie Benton, according to reports in The New York Times, The Times-Union, of Albany, and the USA TODAY State News Network.