Former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, pictured on June 15, 2021, filed a lawsuit Friday against a state ethics commission claiming he should be able to retain profits from his COVID-19 memoir. File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo
April 2 (UPI) -- Former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo filed a lawsuit against the state's ethics board, claiming that he should be allowed to keep profits from a book he wrote during his tenure.
In the lawsuit, filed Friday in the Supreme Court of the State of New York, Cuomo accuses the New York State Joint Commission on Public Ethics of showing "extraordinary bias against him" when it mandated that the former governor needed to forfeit more than $5 million worth of proceeds from his memoir titled "American Crisis: Leadership Lessons from the COVID-19 Pandemic."
Members of the ethics commission had originally signed off on Cuomo's book in 2020. But they voted 12-1 to revoke their approval of Cuomo's book in December, finding that Cuomo had used state resources and personnel to write and publish the book in violation of their previous agreement.
Cuomo's lawsuit claims that revocation was unjust, and that all work for the book was completed ethically and legally.
"Never in the history of New York has an agency so breathtakingly and irresponsibly prejudged a matter on which it is the final decision maker," the lawsuit states.
Cuomo resigned in August amid a flurry of sexual harassment and misconduct accusations after a decade as New York's governor. Early in his tenure, he himself helped create the ethics panel he's currently suing.
Even without the new lawsuit, recovering the $5.1 million in Cuomo's book profits may prove challenging for the ethics committee; by the time they revoked their approval, Cuomo had already put $1 million of the proceeds into a blind trust for his daughters and donated another $500,000 to United Way, Spectrum News 1 reported.
In January, prosecutors requested that an Albany court dismiss a criminal charge filed against Cuomo, who was accused of forcibly touching an aide.
Albany County District Attorney David Soares said in a statement that his office moved to dismiss the misdemeanor sexual assault charge because prosecutors could not prove that the incident rose to the level of being a crime beyond a reasonable doubt.
Cuomo has since said he is a victim of "cancel culture" and a "political hit job" crafted to defame him.