Here’s the Cuomo $5 Million Book Deal Report Panel That Won’t Let You See

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A few hours after the publication of a devastating investigation report on the disgrace of the ex-governor. Andrew Cuomo bullied the state’s ethics watchdog into approving his controversial $5 million pandemic book deal – the now-defunct panel erased the findings from its website.

The 36-page report – the result of a taxpayer-funded investigation conducted by international law firm Hogan Lovells – disappeared from the website of the now officially disbanded Joint Public Ethics Commission on Friday. It had been briefly released the day before the controversial panel’s last board meeting.

The link to the JCOPE report was dead on Friday, but The Post has downloaded it and is posting it here for public consumption.

The much-maligned JCOPE — which critics have derisively called “J-JOKE” — is being replaced by a new watchdog agency created by Gov. Kathy Hochul and the Albany Legislature called the Commission on Ethics in Lobbying and Government.

“The website was moved to the new Commission site this morning, so old links may not work,” JCOPE spokesman Walter McClure said on Friday, though all other reports are still available on the site of the former agency.

And the new link it provided says, “We’re sorry, the page you’re looking for could not be found,” now says the link to the report.

The scathing report on former Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s lucrative book deal is no longer accessible on the Commission on Ethics and Lobbying in Government website.
New York State Commission on Ethics and Lobbying in Government

Other JCOPE reports – such as its just published annual review of the lobbying industry — were still available on its website.

JCOPE officials claimed the disappearance was the result of a glitch, and the link to the report reappeared on the new ethics agency’s website Friday afternoon after inquiries from the Post.

Critics have accused former Governor Andrew Cuomo of taking advantage of his $5million book deal following his controversial nursing home policies.
Critics have accused former Governor Andrew Cuomo of taking advantage of his $5million book deal following his controversial nursing home policies.
Crown via AP

The independent inquiry — recently commissioned by JCOPE commissioners — said agency officials acted as Cuomo’s watchdogs instead of watchdogs in approving his book deal without even a basic review of the terms.

JCOPE officials allowed Cuomo and his team to dictate the terms of what information he would release and when the book deal would be requested when he sought approval from the ethics agency.

“One of the clear lessons from our analysis of the July 10 JCOPE approval [2020 book] claim is that the Executive Chamber has overpowered JCOPE, and JCOPE has failed to assert itself as an oversight agency against the Governor,” the findings of law firm Hogan Lovells found.

“Rather than JCOPE telling the Executive Chamber what information it needed to provide to gain approval, the Executive Chamber told JCOPE what information the Governor would provide, which wasn’t much.”

The belated autopsy said, “The Executive Chamber was also successful in compelling JCOPE to expedite approval and rush through the process with very minimal due diligence.”

A major mistake, according to the report, is that the commissioners of JCOPE in 2012 had delegated the authority to approve requests for outside activities submitted by elected officials across the state to its key employees, who turned into patsies who were “tamed” by Cuomo and his top aides.

The report recommended that ethics agency commissioners be required to approve any outside activity such as a for-profit book of statewide office holders.

“There are lessons to be learned for the successor commission. Don’t let the governor’s executive chamber interfere with agency deliberations and decisions. Commissioners must retain independence and decision-making prerogative and must zealously protect them,” said JCOPE Commissioner Gary Lavine.

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