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ALBANY, N.Y. — Gov. Andrew Cuomo will make more than $5 million for his controversial pandemic-themed book on leadership during the COVID-19 crisis.
The embattled governor was paid $3.1 million as part of his book deal in 2020 and donated $500,000 of his earnings to the United Way and vaccination efforts, his office said. He paid $1.5 million in taxes and incurred $117,000 in expenses, according to federal tax filings made public Monday.
The remaining million made from the book last year, released in October as New York entered a second deadly wave of the pandemic, was put into a trust for his daughters, Cuomo’s office said.
The governor is set to receive an additional $2 million over the next two years — even as sales of the tome, titled “American Crisis: Leadership Lessons from the COVID-19 Pandemic,” have reportedly slowed.
Publisher Crown backed off on promoting the book earlier this year as the governor became embroiled in multiple scandals and several women accused him of sexual harassment.
For months, the Democratic governor refused to disclose how much he was paid to write the book amid reports that staffers and aides were enlisted to assist with the process.
The governor and other officials have repeatedly said that any work done on the book by anyone in the office was done on a volunteer basis.
Still, Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli sent a formal request to Attorney General James last month asking her office to investigate whether Cuomo used public resources, including his taxpayer-supported staff, to work on the pandemic tome.
James’ office is also overseeing an independent probe into sexual harassment allegations leveled against the governor by multiple women, including current and former staffers.
Crown stepped back promotions of the book as criticisms grew about the Cuomo administration’s decision to withhold the true number of nursing home deaths last year, around the time that the book deal was being inked. Federal investigators are probing the administration’s handling of data related to seniors who died of coronavirus during the pandemic.
The Assembly is also conducting an impeachment inquiry looking into the various scandals swirling around Cuomo.
Several critics slammed the seven-figure payment and accused the governor of cashing in on the crisis.
“Last June, millions of New Yorkers were struggling to keep their families safe, and thousands of seniors were struggling to survive in the state’s nursing homes, while the Governor was having his staffers write a book that would make him millions off of the still-raging public health crisis,” said Sochie Nnaemeka, the state director of the NY Working Families Party.
Republican Minority Leader Robert Ortt, R-Erie County, called on Cuomo to donate “every dollar” earned from the book to a charity benefiting front-line workers and the families of those who lost loved ones during the pandemic.
“The fact that Governor Cuomo lined his own pockets with more than $5 million while thousands of New Yorkers were dying horrific deaths is a national disgrace,” he said.
Senior Cuomo adviser Rich Azzopardi defended the governor when asked about the criticisms.
“The governor worked night and day to try to save lives and lead New York out of this crisis,” he said. “Lord knows where they were.”
According to the tax filings, Cuomo’s total adjusted gross income for 2020 was $3.59 million including his $217,736 salary.
Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul and her husband, William, a former U.S. attorney for Western New York and now a general counsel for Buffalo-based food service company Delaware North, made a combined $761,590 and paid $214,480 in state and federal taxes in 2020, according to their filing.
In 2019, the couple earned $1,184,195 last year and paid $354,072 in taxes.