New York attorney general Letitia James’s office has subpoenaed a state ethics board for records pertaining to former governor Andrew Cuomo’s memoir on the early months of the coronavirus pandemic.
The grand jury subpoena, first reported by the Albany Times Union, was issued as part of a criminal investigation by the attorney general into whether Cuomo violated state law by having his staff work on the book. The specific focus of the subpoena was not immediately clear, and the issuance of the subpoena does not necessarily indicate that a grand jury is currently reviewing evidence in the investigation.
Cuomo special counsel Judith Mogul told New York’s Joint Commission on Public Ethics that staff would not be involved in production of the book, when the former governor requested approval for the project in July 2020.
However, senior aides and junior staffers worked on drafts of the book even before Mogul sent the request, according to early drafts of the memoir reviewed by The New York Times earlier this year. The book, American Crisis: Leadership Lessons from the COVID-19 Pandemic, received an advance of over $4 million, people familiar with the matter told the Times.
Some of the junior staffers who aided production of the book told the Times Union that they did not feel their work was voluntary.
“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,” Cuomo adviser Richard Azzopardi said in April.
Cuomo resigned in August after the attorney general published the results of a separate civil investigation, detailing allegations against the governor by eleven women of sexual harassment.