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DiNapoli sends Cuomo book project to AG for criminal investigation

Apr 20, 2021 6:01 am

Chris Bragg is reporting for the Times Union Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo is the focus of a new investigation — this one is a look into his alleged use of government staff to help write a best-selling book last year. On April 13, state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli invoked state Executive Law to issue a formal referral letter requesting a criminal investigation by state Attorney General Letitia James. DiNapoli is authorized under state law to make the request and to give the AG's office jurisdiction. DiNapoli asked the AGto look into matters “related to the use of property, services, or resources of the state for personal purposes,  private business purposes or other compensated non-governmental purposes by the Executive Chamber, including, but not limited to, in the drafting, editing, sale and promoting of the governor’s book and any related financial or business transactions.” A James spokesperson confirmed receipt of the comptroller's letter, and told the Times Union he could not comment further on an ongoing investigation. In a comment to The New York Times, Cuomo senior advisor Richard Azzopardi said the idea that there was criminality involved is "patently absurd on its face and is just the furthering of a political pile-on." A number of high-ranking aides to Cuomo helped produce the book, such as Secretary to the Governor Melissa DeRosa, who did extensive editing. Cuomo’s office argues the help provided was voluntary. However, the question of whether staff was paid or not, is not the concern. Cuomo's special counsel, Judith Mogul, explicitly stated in a letter seeking approval of the book project that government staff would not be used, no exception. In July 2020, the state Joint Commission on Public Ethics approved the governor's book project on the condition that government staff not be used. Read the full story in the Times Union.