ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — New York State’s Joint Commission on Public Ethics, or JCOPE is launching a probe into its own body. The Commission will hire outside lawyers to investigate the approval of former Governor Andrew Cuomo’s $5.1 million book deal.
Coming out of a private executive session Tuesday, JCOPE’s Chair Jose Nieves made a public announcement, alongside other members virtually.
“The Commission has voted to approve the retention of independent counsel to conduct an inquiry into legal and procedural operations of the commission,” said Jose Nieves, JCOPE Chair.
Aside from claims that former Governor Andrew Cuomo used state resources to produce his book American Crisis, which he has denied, there’s another key issue at hand.
“Specifically, why a staff member of JCOPE was able to give then-Governor Cuomo approval to receive $5 million to write a book about COVID instead of having the Commission which is appointed by elected officials make that decision,” said John Kaehny, Reinvent Albany Executive Director.
New York State Attorney General Letitia James and the Assembly Judiciary Committee are probing the book deal as well.
“There’s a lot of mystery surrounding this, but one thing is clear, which is that JCOPE is just floundering and needs to be blown up and completely replaced by a new ethics enforcement body,” said John Kaehny, Reinvent Albany Executive Director.
Governor Kathy Hochul has called for JCOPE to be replaced as well.
In a statement, today Citizen Action of New York President Ivette Alfonso said, “The fact that the New York State Joint Commission on Public Ethics finally made the decision to investigate former Governor Andrew Cuomo’s book deal shows that Cuomo had too much influence over the commission in the first place.”