A grand jury subpoena has been issued as part of a criminal investigation into whether former Governor Andrew Cuomo violated state law by using his staff to work on his book. New York attorney general Letitia James’s office subpoenaed a state ethics board for the records “pertaining to former governor Andrew Cuomo’s memoir on the early months of the coronavirus pandemic” reports National Review.
The Joint Commission on Public Ethics (JCOPE), the state’s watchdog panel, approved Cuomo’s application to receive outside income from the memoir. “But critics have ripped the green light as opaque and improper, since it was subject to internal approval by JCOPE staffers, instead of by a full panel vote” reports The New York Post.
Republican-appointed JCOPE Commissioner Gary Lavine would not “confirm or deny what the subject of the subpoena is” but said it was received “several months ago, at the beginning of the summer.”
Lavine told the Post “there is a grand jury, otherwise, the subpoena would not have been issued. The subpoena was served on the commission. However, it has been interpreted to apply to each commissioner individually. In other words, the commission received the subpoena institutionally – I was never served a subpoena but it has been interpreted that the subpoenas apply to each commissioner including me.”
Lavine explained, “there’s a dispute going on about whether the rescinding of the book approval should be in the public or the private session.” The Post reports the criminal probe is investigating if Cuomo improperly used state resources for the book’s production, including “the drafting, editing, sale and promotion of the Governor’s book and any related financial or business transactions.”
“Cuomo’s office claimed state officials volunteered their time to work on the book during the summer of 2020, but it has been revealed that top staffers like SUNY Chancellor Jim Malatras helped edit and fact-check the book, at the request of former Cuomo top aides Melissa DeRosa and Stephanie Benton” reports the Post.
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