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Aides to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo are pushing back against his administration’s claim that they “volunteered” to help with his pandemic memoir, it was revealed Thursday.
Several current and former Cuomo staffers told the Times-Union that their work on the best-selling book was “expected” — despite not being official government work.
“It was not optional,” said one former aide, who was among those asked to perform tasks related to Cuomo’s tome.
“It was considered a part of your job,” the person added. “Everyone knew that you did what was asked of you and opting-out was never really an option.”
The ex-staffer, who wasn’t named, added that there was a “clear expectation that we would do political work to help with his campaign and run the governor’s personal errands in the Executive Chamber.”
It was reported late last month that junior staffers and top aides Melissa DeRosa and Stephanie Benton assisted the governor with drafts of his book — a potential violation of state laws that prohibit the use of public resources for personal gain.
A Cuomo spokesman denied any wrongdoing involving the governor’s book, which Crown Publishing Group stopped promoting last month due to the federal investigation into his administration’s handling of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“As is permissible and consistent with ethical requirements, people who volunteered on this project did so on their own time,” spokesman Rich Azzopardi said.
But a source with knowledge of the situation told the Times-Union it was “patently ridiculous” that junior staffers had volunteered on the book — and said the work was done during daily government duties.
The state Assembly’s Judiciary Committee — which is already looking into the sexual harassment allegations against Cuomo and the nursing home scandal — said last week that it would also be looking into these allegations as part of the impeachment investigation into the governor.
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