- By Delphine Luneau | The Center Square/May 17th, 2021
(The Center Square) – New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo came under withering criticism from his foes at both ends of the political spectrum after his annual financial disclosure documents, released Monday afternoon, revealed that he was paid more than $3 million for his book on leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic.
A spokesman for Cuomo confirmed that the governor received $3.1 million in 2020 for his book, “American Crisis: Leadership Lessons from the COVID-19 Pandemic,” and that he would get another $2 million over the course of the next two years. After taxes and expenses, he took in about $1.5 million from the book deal in 2020.
Cuomo has faced accusations that he used state resources during the writing of the book; he and his surrogates have said that some staffers volunteered to do research for the governor during their personal time.
Rich Azzopardi, a spokesman for the governor, said in a statement that of the $1.5 million received thus far, about $500,000 was donated to the United Way of New York State for COVID-19 relief and vaccination efforts, with the remainder going into a trust on behalf of his three adult daughters.
Cuomo’s gross income in 2020 was about $3.5 million.
The governor, who was lauded by the national media for his vocal leadership in the early days of the pandemic in March 2020, soon came under fire for his administration’s handling of nursing home patients who were infected by the coronavirus. The administration ruled in the spring of 2020 that hospitalized COVID-19 patients who were nursing home residents had to be readmitted to those nursing homes. The administration has consistently argued that the rule was in line with guidelines issued by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
As the pandemic continued and it became clear that the elderly were particularly vulnerable to the disease, the administration’s rules and lack of transparency about the nursing home death toll have attracted accusations of incompetence or corruption. Multiple ongoing investigations are looking into whether the death toll was deliberately covered up, alongside other accusations against Cuomo personally over accusations of sexual harassment.
Assembly Republican Leader Will Barclay accused Cuomo on Monday of putting his own financial well-being ahead of New Yorkers.
“Today we learned that Andrew Cuomo’s book deal was worth more than $5 million – yet another fact he hid from the public until finally forced to reveal it through tax disclosures,” Barclay said in a news release. “His decision to publish a self-promotional book during the deadliest public-health crisis of our lifetimes was wrong in both principle and process.”
The governor also faced criticism from erstwhile allies, as the progressive Working Families Party, which had endorsed him in his runs for governor, said he was “unfit to lead.”
“[T]he Governor rushed to pat himself on the back, while he hid the true nursing home death toll and covered up the full extent of his administration’s role,” WFP Director Sochie Nmaemeka said in a statement. “Now we know why: the Governor covered up the truth and left our seniors in harm’s way in order to make millions.”
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