It almost seems a shame that the Constitution bans ex post facto laws, because it sure would be nice if something could be enacted to prevent Gov. Cuomo from reaping an obscene $5.1 million from that so-called book that he so-called wrote while he was supposed to be leading the state through the coronavirus crisis. But, it’s a mark of tyranny to retroactively make something illegal, which is why the ban on such action exists. So forget that idea.
Going forward, however, there certainly should be a law that prevents a sitting governor from raking in such personal revenue. The state should follow the lead of Congress in not allowing book advances for officeholders. If he only got money from actual sales, Cuomo would have made a tiny percentage of the money he’s getting, more than half of which has already been paid.
And since it was clear Cuomo was going to run for re-election — at least before the revelations of Covid cover-ups and alleged sexual harassment — his millions could be seen as an in-kind campaign contribution from the book’s publisher. The payoff is not exactly a great investment for the Crown Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House; the book has sold about 50,000 copies. That’s not quite one for each of the approximately 52,500 residents of the state who have died from the virus. Crown announced back in March, when the Covid nursing home scandal blew open, that it would not be reprinting the book or issuing a paperback version.
Too bad it’s still on the hook for the money. Who wants to read a book supposedly about leadership by someone whose leadership was largely a facade? Sure, Cuomo put on a good show with his daily press conferences during the worst of the crisis, and for that he won an Emmy. It wasn’t for acting, but maybe it should have been. All that time when it seemed he was a calm, cool and collected leader seeing us through the pandemic, he was actually using state resources to promote and enrich himself. Some of the very officials who helped Cuomo cover up the true number of Covid deaths in nursing homes helped him put the book together. Both he and they should have been focused on the virus, and now we know they were not.
With every new revelation of scandal, whether about nursing homes, the book or alleged harassment, Cuomo announces a new easing of the Covid restrictions he himself imposed. They should be falling away as the virus is defeated. But no new announcement is going to stymie the investigations by the state Attorney General’s Office. Cuomo may be able to avoid impeachment and removal but he is already paying for his wrongdoing. He can forget about ever being president, and it’s hard to see him even running for re-election. His legacy is shot. Whatever other punishments his incredible arrogance and cowardice may bring, for him those may be the worst.