Two former top New York prosecutors blasted disgraced ex-Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday for using government staffers to help write his $5 million book during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The legal experts tore into the ex-gov the day after a bombshell state Assembly Judiciary Committee report ripped Cuomo for using staffers to help compile his lucrative, self-promoting tome.
“The use of employees for personal gain is inappropriate. The former governor should work out an accommodation to repay the taxpayers of the state of New York for his use of these employees,” ex-Brooklyn District Attorney Elizabeth Holtzman told The Post.
“Cuomo was in a position of high honor and prestige. He owes it to the people of the state to make this accommodation,” said Holtzman, a Democrat like Cuomo.
Holtzman has a history of taking on corrupt politicians: As a former congresswoman, she served on the House Judiciary Committee and voted to impeach then-President Richard Nixon.
Former state Attorney General Dennis Vacco also gave Cuomo’s actions a scathing review — calling his use of staff resources “probably illegal.
“It’s highly inappropriate to use chamber staff to write a book when you are conveying to the public that they are working 24/7 to combat the pandemic,” said Vacco, a Republican who also served as the US attorney for Western New York.
“It’s a slippery slope to go down the path of using government resources — even when claiming staffers are volunteers — when you are engaging in profit-making activity that only benefits you,’’ he said.
“The governor of the State of New York and his employees owe honest services to the people.”
The Judiciary Committee’s scathing report found that Cuomo’s book, “American Crisis: Leadership Lessons for the COVID-19 Pandemic,” “was the product of significant work performed by Executive Chamber staff during a time of a global pandemic requiring an around-the-clock response.”
The report noted that Cuomo was low-balling nursing home deaths from COVID-19 at the same time he was negotiating his book deal.
Critics have accused the ex-governor of hiding nursing-home fatalities to bolster his leadership profile and book sales.
Cuomo, battered by the allegations, eventually resigned from office in August amid other explosive accusations — this time involving sexual misconduct against a slew of women.
As The Post exclusively reported in February, there was a deliberate decision by team Cuomo to hide the true total of nursing-home deaths, citing an ongoing probe by former President Donald Trump’s Justice Department.
Former top Cuomo aide Melissa DeRosa told state lawmakers the team “froze” and sat on the numbers because they feared retribution, a startling admission that triggered criminal probes.
In terms of Cuomo’s book, state Attorney General Letitia James has an open criminal investigation into whether he violated the state Public Officers Law, which forbids public officials from using state resources for personal gain.
The FBI and federal prosecutors in Brooklyn’s Eastern District also have made inquiries about the book.
The state’s Joint Commission on Public Ethics last week revoked its prior approval of Cuomo’s book contract and will be conducting an independent probe on how it was approved in the first place without a vote of the full board.
“The Assembly report makes it all the more imperative for JCOPE to expedite our investigation,’’ said JCOPE member Gary Lavine.
“The Assembly report confirms my view that the commission does not yet have the full story. We need to investigate all the circumstances about the book approval.”
JCOPE is expected to name a law firm soon to lead the probe on its handling of the Cuomo book.
But a Cuomo rep defended the governor’s handling of the book, insisting preparation did not influence his decisions on the pandemic.
“Negotiations [on the book] did not begin until after the crisis subsided in July,” said Cuomo spokesman Richard Azzopardi.
He also claimed Monday that staffers’ work on the book was voluntary and legal, despite some testimony included in the Assembly report saying otherwise.
“The people who volunteered were senior members in the administration and were highly sophisticated in terms of official activities and volunteer activities and had performed both many times in the past,’’ he said.
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