New York's Joint Commission on Public Ethics (JCOPE) ordered disgraced former governor Andrew Cuomo (D.) to return $5.1 million he made in profits from his book about the pandemic.
The commission on Tuesday found that Cuomo used state resources or employees to write the book, in violation of New York law. JCOPE voted 12-1 to ban Cuomo from making outside income on American Crisis: Leadership Lessons from the COVID-19 Pandemic and ordered him to pay back the income he already made by next month.
JCOPE may not have the authority to issue the order, however, the New York Post reported Tuesday.
The commission "has exactly zero authority to issue an order such as this," former state ethics enforcer David Grandeau told the Post. "All [the law] says is JCOPE has the right to issue opinions."
Cuomo's attorney agreed, telling the Post, "Should they seek to enforce this action, we'll see them in court."
Cuomo resigned on Aug. 24 after state attorney general Letitia James (D.) found that the then-governor sexually harassed at least 11 women. Cuomo also ordered New York nursing homes to admit coronavirus-positive patients and then hid the number of nursing-home deaths, according to an independent report released last month.
More than 15,000 people died of COVID-19 complications in the state's nursing homes, the New York Times found in August.
Tracey Alvino, whose father died of COVID-19 in a New York nursing home, told the Post that American Crisis "was a blood money book of lies written off the graves of 15,000 people."
"Score one for the team of morals and ethics and everything that is just and right," she said about the commission's decision.