NEW YORK — Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s book about his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic may be the source of a new criminal investigation by the New York attorney general’s office.
In response to allegations that the governor used state resources to produce and promote “American Crisis: Leadership Lessons from the Covid-19 Pandemic,” state Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli sent a letter to state Attorney General Letitia James requesting a criminal investigation into Cuomo’s actions.
DiNapoli’s office released the letter, dated April 13, on Monday. It authorizes the attorney general to investigate whether the process of writing and promoting the book violated state laws.
James’ office said it received the referral letter from the state comptroller but didn’t comment further.
The governor said Monday that he asked some people who he mentioned in the book to “review” it. Rich Azzopardi, a Cuomo senior advisor, slammed news of the letter as “Albany politics at its worst.”
“We have officially jumped the shark – the idea there was criminality involved here is patently absurd on its face and is just the furthering of a political pile-on,” Azzopardi said. “Any state official who volunteered to assist on this project did so on his or her own time and without the use of state resources. To the extent a document was printed, it was incidental. This is Albany politics at its worst — both the Comptroller and the Attorney General have spoken to people about running for Governor and it is unethical to wield criminal referral authority to further political self-interest.”
The possible investigation is the latest in a series of allegations plaguing the governor, including mishandling nursing homes during the pandemic, sexually harassing several women, and bullying lawmakers. There are separate, ongoing investigations led by the New York Attorney General’s Office, U.S. Department of Justice and the New York State Assembly.
Earlier Monday, before the comptroller’s letter was released, a new Siena Poll found that despite the scandals, most New Yorkers do not want Cuomo to resign from office.
Of those who were polled, 51% said the governor should not resign and 52% said he can do his job even with the ongoing scandals and investigations.
Read the letter from Comptroller DiNapoli to Attorney General James below.
PIX11 reporter Henry Rosoff contributed to this report.