New York ethics commission suing Cuomo
Chris Bragg reports for the Times Union that New York’s ethics oversight commission, the Joint Commission on Public Ethics, countersued ex-Gov. Andrew Cuomo May 6, to get him to pay back $5.1 million Cuomo made from a book deal in his last year in office. The Joint Commission on Public Ethics ordered the repayment in March, saying Cuomo misused government resources to produce the 2020 book “American Crisis: Leadership Lessons from the COVID-19 Pandemic." Cuomo has refused to return any of the money, and now the two sides are suing each other. Cuomo filed a lawsuit against JCOPE's order in early April in state Supreme Court. JCOPE also plans to depose Cuomo on June 22. Cuomo has not disputed using state workers to help with his book, but claims that the state employees were just "volunteering." But when requesting approval from JCOPE to write the book, Cuomo's government lawyer told the JCOPE staffer, Martin Levine that state employees would not work on the book. JCOPE lawyers were in court May 6, trying to convince a judge to dismiss Cuomo's lawsuit. “It is, as JCOPE’s motion explains, a naked attempt by a former governor to use a federal civil rights statute to stop the hearing in state administrative proceeding concerning the potential violation of ethics laws by a then-public servant,” wrote attorneys at the law firm Hogan Lovells, which is representing JCOPE. “For many reasons, Cuomo’s cause of action should be dismissed with prejudice.” Cuomo spokesperson Richard Azzopardi said May 9 that JCOPE, "is wasting taxpayer money in a feeble attempt to settle political scores." Read more about this story in the Times Union.