Politics & Policy

Governor Cuomo’s Book Deal Valued at over $5 Million

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo speaks at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in Manhattan in New York, N.Y., May 11, 2021 (Eduardo Munoz/Reuters)

A tax return from the governor’s office released Monday confirmed that Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo’s book deal was worth $5.12 million and is positioned to earn that sum in the next couple of years.

Cuomo penned “American Crisis” during the early stages of the pandemic as a memoir retelling of his administration’s response to the COVID crisis. The governor reportedly secured $3.21 million in 2020 for the book. State officials said that its contract stipulates an additional $2 million to be paid out over the next two years, the New York Times reported.

The governor’s communications director Rich Azzopardi said that Cuomo retained $1.53 million in 2020 after expenses and taxes.

“From that net income, the Governor donated a third to the United Way of New York State for state-wide COVID relief and vaccination effort, and is giving the remainder in a trust for his three daughters equally who worked with the Governor during this pandemic and did what he calls ‘tireless and effective work for all New Yorkers’ and gave him ‘the strength and love to make it through the crisis every day,'” Azzopardi told The New York Times Monday.

The book was published in October, as New York experienced its second wave of COVID cases. It quickly became a New York Times bestseller, selling thousands of copies as Cuomo took the spotlight for his state’s management of the pandemic. However, amid scandals embattling the governor’s office, including sexual harassment allegations and an investigation into New York’s alleged under-reporting of nursing home deaths, publisher Crown Publishing Group vowed to halt promotion of the book and well as scrap production of the paperback version.

It was discovered earlier this year that the Cuomo administration undercounted the total COVID deaths in New York nursing home facilities by thousands of elderly people and subsequently orchestrated a cover-up to shield the governor from criticism. As of March, the COVID assisted living deaths surpassed 15,000.

Book sales reportedly slowed amid the controversies to just around 50,000 hardcover copies sold, according to NPD BookScan. According to the New York Times, this poor sales performance may be insufficient for Crown to recoup its initial investment, making it possible that the publisher will have to adjust the $5.1 million payout written in the contract.

Another criminal probe, authorized by NYS Attorney General Letitia James, was recently opened to determine whether Cuomo unlawfully misused state resources, including staffers, to write and advertise the memoir, marking the fourth major federal inquiry facing the governor.

Junior staff members and senior aides disclosed that their work on Cuomo’s book included editing early drafts, participating in pitch meetings, and printing and delivering pages of the manuscript to the governor’s mansion. Some current and former staffers shared that their help was expected as part of the culture in Cuomo’s office, despite the governor’s claim that work on the book was voluntary.

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