State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli sent a letter to Attorney General Letitia James last week to officially request the probe. Such a request is required before James can launch a criminal investigation.
DiNapoli’s letter didn’t detail suspicions about Cuomo’s book — American Crisis: Leadership Lessons From the COVID-19 — which was published last October, but it did ask James to investigate any possible offenses linked to the use of state “property, services or resources” for personal purposes by the Executive Chambers. That would include any “drafting, editing, sale and promotion” of the book and “any related financial or business transaction,” the letter stated.
According to some reports, Cuomo was offered as much as $4 million for the book; however, the governor has not confirmed that figure.
Top aides and junior staffers assisted the governor with drafts, The New York Times reported last month. His staff also helped mail autographed copies to the governor’s supporters, per The Albany Times-Union. Some employees told the Times-Union that work on the book was expected and often part of their daily duties.
State law prohibits any state employee, including Cuomo, from using governmental resources to advance private business interests.
Cuomo said some people volunteered to review the book.
“I wanted to make sure it represented what they did, and the facts correctly, so some people volunteered to help on the book,” he said.
In a statement to the media, Cuomo senior adviser Rich Azzopardi said the idea that there was criminality involved in creating the book was “patently absurd on its face.” He also accused James and DiNapoli of attacking Cuomo to advance their political careers.
“Any state official who volunteered to assist on this project did so on his or her own time and without the use of state resources,” Azzopardi told Politico.
The AG’s office has also launched an investigation into accusations of sexual harassment against Cuomo by several women.
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