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Andrew Cuomo sues N.Y. ethics commission to keep book profits

The state panel had ordered the former New York governor to return $5.1 million he had earned for his pandemic memoir.
Former Gov. Andrew Cuomo
Former Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks during a New York Hispanic Clergy Organization meeting on Mar. 17, 2022.Seth Wenig / AP file

Andrew Cuomo has sued New York's ethics commission to stop it from seizing his earnings from a book he wrote about his handling of the Covid-19 pandemic when he was governor.

Cuomo’s lawsuit, filed Friday in Supreme Court in Albany, accused the Joint Commission on Public Ethics of violating his constitutional rights and showing “extraordinary bias against him” when it ordered him to forfeit $5.1 million in proceeds from his book deal in December. Supreme Court is the name of New York state's main trial court.

Shortly after it issued the order, the commission received a letter from the state Attorney General Letitia James telling its members they needed to take additional steps to claim the money. At the time, Cuomo's legal team decried the order and promised to take the matter to court.

Cuomo was ordered to turn over his proceeds four months after he announced his resignation as governor following a withering report in which James documented multiple accusations of sexual harassment against women.

The commission, which has regulatory oversight over lobbyists and government officials, approved Cuomo’s book deal in July 2020 after it was told that Cuomo, then the governor, would not use state personnel or resources.

Last year, the commission reversed its decision after a state Assembly investigation revealed that state resources and personnel were used for the book.

Cuomo's representatives declined to comment Saturday. They had previously said any state employees involved with the book were using personal time, not work time.

The Joint Commission on Public Ethics declined to comment Saturday.