While his administration was working to cover up the number of COVID-19 deaths in nursing homes, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo was working toward a multi-million dollar book deal touting his success during the pandemic, according to a new report.
The New York Times reported that Cuomo's work on his book last summer, which relied on assistance from his aides and staffers, overlapped the efforts by his administration to undercount virus-related deaths in New York nursing homes in a health department report.
While his aides were working on covering up nursing home deaths over the summer, Cuomo shopped his book for a deal worth more than $4 million.
Cuomo released "America's Crisis: Leadership Lessons from the COVID-19 Pandemic" in October, in which he hailed himself as a hero for his handling of the virus when New York was at the epicenter of the disease’s spread.
According to reports, he began writing the book in mid-June and had an early draft in mid-July.
Rich Azzopardi, a senior adviser to the governor, said that there was "no connection" between the book and the reports," adding, “any suggestion otherwise is just wrong.”
According to the Times report, Cuomo began working on the book following the initial spike in COVID-19 cases at the outset of the pandemic. He reportedly used a team of top aides and junior staffers to assist with the book, including tasks such as printing, posting drafts, and editing his writing.
Top aide, Melissa DeRosa was also heavily involved in the process, attending video meetings with publishers and editing early drafts while assisting with the alleged coverup of COVID-19 nursing home deaths.
Another aide, Stephanie Benton, also was reportedly involved, including delivering drafts of the book to the Executive Mansion.
Azzopardi defended that as well, telling the Times that the two “volunteered for the project” and that their conduct at that time “permissible and consistent with ethical requirements in New York.”
Cuomo was also quick to praise himself, while taking potshots at New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and former President Donald Trump in the process.
“I have experience and a skill set that qualifies me as a good governor," Cuomo wrote in an early draft acquired by the Times. "I have accomplished by any objective standard more than any governor in modern history. But I am not a superhero."
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