ALBANY, N.Y. — Former Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo will not have to turn over the proceeds of his $5.1 million book deal, after a judge ruled on Tuesday that a state ethics board had violated Mr. Cuomo’s due process in seeking the money.
The now-defunct Joint Commission on Public Ethics, known as JCOPE, had initially approved Mr. Cuomo’s book deal in 2020, but revoked it a few months after he left office, saying he had obtained the green light under false pretenses and improperly used state resources in writing the memoir, “American Crisis: Leadership Lessons From the Covid-19 Pandemic.”
Aides to Mr. Cuomo said he followed his lawyers’ advice in allowing his aides to help him on the book, as long as they did it on their own time.
In her 16-page ruling, Judge Denise A. Hartman of State Supreme Court in Albany said JCOPE overstepped its authority, stripping Mr. Cuomo of his rights in the process.
“Here JCOPE issued the approval for the outside activity, then unilaterally determined wrongdoing, then withdrew the approval, and finally imposed the disgorgement penalty — all without the opportunity for a due process hearing explicitly provided for under the procedures set forth in Executive Law,” Ms. Hartman wrote.
Whether there will be an appeal of the ruling, or if that’s even possible, was not immediately clear. The oft-maligned JCOPE, seen as a toothless agency that did the bidding of the politicians who appointed its board, no longer exists. It was replaced this summer by a new Commission on Ethics and Lobbying in Government.
A call to a spokesman for the new agency was not immediately returned.