Scrutiny over how New York counted nursing home deaths during the pandemic last year is also falling his book about the crisis. State lawmakers say what the governor earned from the public should be released to the public.
Assemblyman Ron Kim and several lawmakers on Tuesday backed calls for the governor to release the details of contract for the book American Crisis: Leadership Lessons from the COVID-19 Pandemic.
"So the public can decide and for the media as well whether there was a financial motivation," he said in an interview.
Kim's concern stems from a July report on nursing home deaths released by the Cuomo administration.
State officials have acknowledged a full accounting of the number of nursing home residents who have died was not included in that report. The governor's office last week said it could not have that information verified at the time. But Kim is concerned the book deal and its promotion later that fall may have played a role.
"If he committed fraud, if his top aides committed fraud, by surpassing life or death information for personal profits he needs to be immediately removed from office because he is unfit for making any decisions in the budgeting process," Kim said.
Cuomo is yet to reveal how much he has earned from the book, but has said a portion of the money will be contributed to a COVID-related charity. A 2014 book Cuomo released in his first term netted him more than $700,000 over the years, according to his tax filings.
Cuomo has traditionally released his tax returns for the prior year every April. A message to his office on Tuesday was not returned.
"It's important that the public know what the entity is that's paying for the advance and royalties, to make sure there are no conflicts of interest," said Blair Horner of the New York Public Interest Research Group.
The book's timing is potentially key and those questions could be dispelled if Cuomo revealed more information, Horner said.
"How that could have impacted the book if it came out differently who knows," Horner said. "That does raise questions in the public's mind. But the only person who can answer that question is the governor why he timed it the way he did."