NY’s dysfunctional ethics watchdog retroactively revokes approval of Cuomo’s deal

We don’t know why the saps serving on the ridiculous state Joint Commission on Public Ethics even try anymore. After OK’ing then-Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s plan last year to write his self-congratulating COVID memoir, now they’ve voted (after failing a couple of times) that the permission was granted in error and that Cuomo needs to apply again for the right to write, presumably after hopping in a time machine.

Uh, JCOPEers, the book is done, and he ain’t governor anymore, if you hadn’t noticed.


The book was a bad idea. We said so the first day. As was Cuomo accepting an advance for the volume. We said that the first day, too. We believe that all book deals by public officeholders should exclude the publisher paying the author a cent until actual sales roll in. Then flops, like Cuomo’s long-forgotten first book, 2014’s “All Things Possible,” would net him bubkis, instead of the $783,000 he pocketed from a media conglomerate. The same would have been so for “American Crisis: Leadership Lessons from the COVID-19 Pandemic,” which had poor sales, despite tremendous publicity, but still yielded Cuomo $5.1 million.

But attacking him after the fact because JCOPE was too stupid to ban all advances and he, having scored a big one, is now a political pariah, says more about JCOPE’s failings than Cuomo’s.


No wonder it took three rounds of voting to come up with a weaselly resolution that says: “Contrary to the representations made on behalf of Gov. Cuomo and not disclosed to the commission, state property, resources and personnel, including staff volunteers, were used in connection with the preparation, writing, editing and publication of the book.” It was indeed wrong if Cuomo leaned on government employees on official time to help him with the tome — but retroactive revocation of approval makes no sense.

Cuomo created JCOPE with a pair of actual criminals, Assembly Speaker Shelly Silver and Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos. They’re gone, packed off to federal prison. Now Cuomo’s gone. But JCOPE is still here. Too bad.