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Cuomo refusing to give up records related to book deal

Jun 02, 2021 6:00 am

Chris Bragg is reporting for the Times Union Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's office is refusing to release public records related to his $5.1 million book deal. His attorneys have invoked one law that keeps the records of the state's ethics panel under wraps and another that is designed to keep law enforcement records hidden if the release can interfere with an investigation. On Fri., May 28, Cuomo's office denied three Freedom of Information Law requests submitted by the Times Union. Nothing in state law prevents Cuomo's office from releasing the records, and a state ethics commissioner called Cuomo’s legal argument for suppressing the records “absurd.” The newspaper requested employee timesheets showing the governmental work hours for Cuomo aides who did extensive work on his book; records Cuomo’s office had provided to state ethics officials when he sought approval to publish "American Crisis;" and copies of any investigative letters that ethics regulators may have sent to Cuomo’s office in recent weeks. In April, the governor's office released a letter that his governmental counsel wrote to state ethics regulators when he was seeking approval to publish “American Crisis.” Now, Cuomo counsel Jaclyn Clemmer says such records are exempt from public disclosure. The state's top government transparency official, Shoshanah Bewlay, said no court has ruled on whether the law exempting the Public Integrity Commission from open records requests extends to documents exchanged between the commission and outside entities, including state agencies or offices. Bewlay said the issue has not been presented to a court. It is not clear whether the commission is investigating the book deal, but at a special meeting in April, the commission announced it was taking steps in unnamed “investigative matters.” Read more in the Times Union.

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