Politics

Despite $5M Book Deal, Gov. Cuomo Making Taxpayers Foot $2.5M Legal Defense Tab

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Taxpayers are being forced to shell out more than $900 an hour for Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s lead defense lawyer, to help him try and fend off multiple allegations of sexual harassment, charges that he used staffers to help write a book detailing his handling of the pandemic and claims that he and aides hid from the public the true death toll among patients of nursing homes.

The $2.5 million deal, revealed in a contract made public through a Freedom of Information Request by The Post, was struck even though Cuomo sold the rights to his coronavirus memoir for $5.1 million and has around $17 million in his campaign war chest.

The three-term Democrat is also holding a $10,000-a-head fundraiser later this month amid an ongoing impeachment probe by the state Assembly’s Judiciary Committee.

But Cuomo — who leads the nation’s governors with a $225,000 annual salary — defended his decision to stick hard-working and heavily taxed New Yorkers with his legal bills.

“The state — the way it works is the Executive Chamber has retained the counsel and that is a state expense,” he said during a news conference at Manhattan’s Javits Center.

“That has been [the case] in every investigation. So that’s where we are now.”

Asked if he was paying any other lawyers out of his own pocket or with campaign cash, Cuomo said, “Not at this time.”

The head of the good-government group Common Cause New York said Cuomo “should be holding fundraisers in the middle of an ongoing investigation to pay off his legal fees — not to pad his war chest.”

“As Common Cause/NY has previously recommended, politicians who are subject to civil and/or criminal investigation should refrain from paying for their defense with either tax-dollars or campaign funds, and instead set up a Legal Defense Fund,” executive director Susan Lerner said.

“That way, they can transparently raise money from willing donors.”

The contract confirms that in addition to investigating the Cuomo administration’s handling of nursing homes amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the feds are probing the publication of Cuomo’s memoir, which reportedly involved work by state employees.

The Post exclusively revealed the latter aspect last month, when state Senate Health Committee Chairman Gustavo Rivera (D-The Bronx) detailed his ne… (Read more)

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