Cuomo: The $5 million man

Gov. Cuomo on May 17.
Gov. Cuomo on May 17.
Kevin P. Coughlin/Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo
Gov. Cuomo on May 17.

Cuomo: The $5 million man

New financial disclosures show how much the governor will earn from his book on pandemic leadership.
May 17, 2021

Governor Andrew Cuomo is getting about $5 million for the book he wrote last year, “American Crisis: Leadership Lessons from the COVID-19 Pandemic,” and he is sharing his newfound wealth with his three daughters and United Way of New York State.

The governor received $3.12 million from his publisher last year, reaping $1,537,508 after taxes and expenses, according to his latest financial disclosure. About $500,000 of that will go to help fund COVID-19 relief and vaccination efforts overseen by the nonprofit. The rest – approximately $1 million – will be split evenly in a trust for his three daughters. He will receive an additional $2 million for his book over the next two years, according to spokesperson Rich Azzopardi, who did not respond by publication time about whether future earnings from the book would also be divided between his children and the nonprofit.

Controversy has shadowed the book ever since the governor announced his intention to write about his experiences in the middle of the pandemic last year. His charitable giving and largess to his children highlight how he will not personally benefit from the multimillion-dollar payday and sales from the onetime bestseller. But he is still feeling the political heat over reported efforts by top aides like Secretary to the Governor Melissa DeRosa to cover up the true COVID-19 death toll among nursing home residents right around the same time they were supposedly volunteering for his book project, the latter of which could be a violation of the state’s ethics rules.

A federal investigation and Assembly impeachment probe remain ongoing into the reported cover up of nursing home deaths that helped propel Cuomo from the great political heights he reached last year to the lowest point of his decadelong tenure as governor. While the governor is not earning as much money from the book as some of his critics thought, the optics of publishing a book that did not include the full scope of what his administration knew about the state’s response to the pandemic will likely remain controversial as he continues to fight for his political survival amid a litany of scandals that include several instances of alleged sexual misconduct.

His financial disclosure showed he earned an adjusted gross income of $3,593,343 last year and paid a total of $1,237,837 in federal taxes at an effective rate of 37.33%. He also paid $303,890 in state taxes at an 8.82% rate. His wages at his day job as governor totaled $217,736, and his tax return showed he earned $48,761 in dividends and $428,429 in capital gains.

The biggest loser from the whole book ordeal, however, appears to be Crown Publishing Group. Like HarperCollins Publishers – which gave Cuomo a $738,000 advance for his 2014 autobiography – Crown bet big on what looked to be a rising star in national politics only to see his book ultimately fall far below its lofty expectations. “This is an absolutely insane advance given what his last book sold … Harper paid him $1 million for his last book and lost money after selling something like 5,000 copies,” journalist and author Yashar Ali tweeted Monday following the release of the financial disclosure.

“This book is not going to earn out (not even close) & will end up as a major loss for Crown publishing group.”

Zach Williams
is senior state politics reporter at City & State.
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