ALBANY – New York’s Governor is set to earn five million dollars from his book discussing the state’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Governor Andrew Cuomo disclosed Monday he was paid a $3.1 million advance to write his COVID-19 leadership book last year and under his publishing contract will make another $2 million on the memoir over the next two years.
That total windfall of more than $5.1 million further inflamed critics who have said it was inappropriate for Cuomo to personally enrich himself with a self-congratulatory book, published just as the state was seeing a deadly resurgence in infections last October.
New York State Senator George Borrello is among those around the state reacting to the earnings disclosure, calling the arraignment disgraceful.
“That’s five million reasons to hide the truth and mislead the public about the deadly impact of his administration’s decision to return COVID-positive patients to their nursing homes at the beginning of the pandemic,” wrote Borrello in a statement. “This news adds great urgency to the ongoing investigations surrounding this deal. The role that a financial motive played in the nursing home cover up needs to be fully investigated, as do the reports that its development involved the improper use of state staff and resources.”
At least 52,987 people have died of COVID-19 in New York, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University of Medicine.
“Despite promising to donate the proceeds to COVID relief, just one-third went to charity,” furthered Borrello. “The notion of profiting from a tragedy that took the lives of thousands of New Yorkers is unseemly and an affront to those who lost loved ones to this deadly virus.”
The Senator has pushed legislation to prevent elected officials from publishing books about their leadership in office while still holding that office.
“This isn’t a free speech issue, it’s an anti-corruption issue,” explained Borrello. “Even if no laws were broken, the glaring conflicts of interest involved here demand action. I urge my colleagues in the Senate to take up my legislation before the end of session so we can give New Yorkers the accountability they deserve in their elected leaders.”
Cuomo, a Democrat, had for months declined to say how much money he made from writing “American Crisis: Leadership Lessons From the COVID-19 Pandemic,” published by Crown Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House. The book largely recounts the governor’s once-daily press conferences on the COVID-19 pandemic.
The disclosure of the big payday was made on the day Cuomo’s mandatory financial disclosures were due to a state ethics agency. Cuomo also let reporters view a copy of his tax returns, which were also due Monday.