A brief, unsurprising, and characteristically unpleasant update on the Andrew Cuomo book deal debacle: several current and former Cuomo staffers have anonymously told the Times Union that, counter to Cuomo’s claims, staffers were given tasks related to Cuomo’s memoir about the COVID-19 pandemic, American Crisis, as part of their governmental duties—violating state law.
According to the Times Union, during the course of their daily government tasks, staffers took notes from Cuomo’s dictations and then typed up passages of the book; after publication, staffers mailed out signed copies. One former staffer, who performed American Crisis-related tasks at work, told the Times Union there was a “clear expectation that we would do political work to help with [Cuomo’s] campaign and run the governor’s personal errands in the executive chamber.” Said the staffer, “It was not optional. It was considered a part of your job. Everyone knew that you did what was asked of you and opting out was never really an option.”
Two others with direct knowledge of more junior Cuomo staffers’ work told the Times Union it was, in the words of one of them, “patently ridiculous” that the staffers had volunteered their personal time to help with Cuomo’s book. And according to records the Times Union sourced from the Empire Center for Public Policy and state comptroller’s office, at least two junior Cuomo staffers who worked on Cuomo’s book in 2020 earned significant overtime payments that year. Uh oh!
Said Cuomo senior advisor Richard Azzopardi, “As is permissible and consistent with ethical requirements, people who volunteered on this project did so on their own time.” It’s reasonable that he’s saying this: using public resources for personal enrichment (literally) is against state law, and will be of interest to the Assembly Judiciary Committee, who has already expanded the scope of their Cuomo impeachment probe to include questions about the legality of his memoir. So, this is damning news, and we have the Times Union to thank. But Cuomo abusing his power over state employees to further a personal agenda—that’s nothing we didn’t know before.
[via the Times Union]