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Cuomo set to be paid $5.12 million for pandemic memoir, tax returns show

Crown and Gov. Andrew Cuomo's office
Credit Crown and Gov. Andrew Cuomo's office

Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a contract for his latest memoir last year that brought in an initial $3.12 million, with an additional $2 million expected to be paid to him over the next two years, according to his tax returns.

Altogether, Cuomo is set to be paid $5.12 million from his book before taxes and expenses -- far more than the $783,000 he earned for his last book.

Of the initial payment for his new book, “American Crisis,” nearly half was taken out in expenses and taxes, and the rest was donated to the United Way of New York and placed in a trust for his three daughters.

Cuomo donated $500,000 of his after-tax income from the book to United Way of New York State. That left $1,037,508 to be placed in a trust that’s to be equally divided between his three daughters. Cuomo paid $1,464,532 in taxes on his income from the book.

Richard Azzopardi, a senior adviser to the governor, said Cuomo wanted to give the money to his daughters, who Cuomo said gave him “the strength and love to make it through the crisis every day.”

It’s unclear if the remaining $2 million for the book that’s required under his contract will be divided up in the same way, or if he’ll hold onto that money after tax.

Cuomo has been criticized since he published the book last fall for writing a memoir about his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic before the crisis had concluded. Shortly after his book was released, New York experienced a new surge of the virus.

He’s also been accused of using state resources, including personnel, to help work on the book, by either delivering pages to him, or lending a hand with editing. Cuomo has said any work done on the book by state employees was done so voluntarily, and on their own time.

State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli has referred those concerns to Attorney General Letitia James, whose office has authority to review if Cuomo may have broken state ethics laws while working on the book.

Senate Republican Leader Rob Ortt, a Republican from Niagara County who is among Cuomo’s harshest critics, said the three-term governor should’ve donated all proceeds from the book to charity, and that inquiries into the book deal should move forward.

“At a minimum, he should not be profiting from what was an inappropriate, and possibly criminal, undertaking,” Ortt said. “It is clearly time for the Attorney General and JCOPE to step up and hold this governor accountable once and for all.”

Aside from the book, Cuomo was paid $217,736 for his salary as governor and reported other income from investments as well. Altogether, his adjusted gross income was $3,593,343.

Because of the amount he made, Cuomo was held to the highest tax rates on both the federal and state levels. He paid $303,890 in state taxes, and $1,237,837 in federal taxes. He actually overpaid in federal taxes, netting him a federal refund of $12,352.

Cuomo paid $42,390 in state and local taxes, all of which were on his income. Cuomo doesn’t own property because he lives in the publicly owned Executive Mansion in Albany.Dan Clark is host/producer of New York Now.

Copyright 2021 WXXI News

Dan Clark is the host and producer of New York NOW, a weekly television show focusing on state government produced by WMHT in Albany. Clark has been reporting on New York state government and politics for the last six years, during which time he's worked out of the state Capitol in Albany. Clark reported for the national political fact-checking publication PolitiFact, the Buffalo News, the statewide political television show Capital Tonight, and most recently the New York Law Journal. At the New York Law Journal, Clark has focused on state legal challenges to President Donald Trump, as well as litigation concerning laws enacted by the New York State Legislature. Clark covered the Legislature in each role he's held and is a familiar face to state lawmakers and staff. Clark is a native of Afton, NY in Chenango County. He's lived in Albany with his husband since 2011.