ALBANY — Federal investigators subpoenaed some of Gov. Cuomo’s top aides as part of a probe into his administration’s COVID nursing home policies and his pandemic-themed book, the Wall Street Journal reported Monday.
The Brooklyn U.S. Attorney’s office sought documents and communications related to contracts and materials used as the governor was shopping for a publisher last summer. Cuomo inked a $5 million deal for the book, “American Crisis,” with publishing company Crown.
Subpoenas were reportedly sent out last month to high-ranking officials, some who have said publicly they assisted with the tome, the Journal reported.
Cuomo’s COVID book has been a point of contention as he faces multiple probes and scandals have engulfed his administration. Attorney General Letitia James, whose office is overseeing an independent investigation into sexual harassment allegations made against the governor, is also looking into whether state resources were used to unlawfully assist in crafting or promoting the book.
Representatives for the governor have repeatedly said any work by staffers on the tome was done on a voluntary basis.
However, the federal interest in the book is part of a wider probe into the state’s handling of data related to COVID deaths in long-term elder care facilities.
Critics have accused the administration of undercounting and misrepresenting the full toll the virus took on nursing home residents. The state separated deaths based on whether a senior died in their place of residence or at a hospital after contracting coronavirus. The total number, which was over 15,000, was not disclosed until earlier this year.
Cuomo officials told state lawmakers earlier this year that they “froze” when the Trump administration’s Department of Justice requested information related to nursing home deaths last year.
The governor has repeatedly blamed partisan politics for the criticisms of the state’s handling of the pandemic, including a controversial order that directed nursing homes to accept COVID-positive residents during a two-month stretch last year. Cuomo has repeatedly sought to clarify those comments and said that officials were attempting to verify all data before making it public.
The embattled Democratic governor is also facing an impeachment investigation in the Assembly and calls for his resignation from both sides of the aisle.
The federal probe is also examining a state law slipped into the state budget last year that granted sweeping legal immunity to nursing home operators and hospitals as the COVID crisis worsened.
Cuomo has denied any wrongdoing in all cases, but in February, following a scathing report from James’ office accusing the state of undercounting nursing home deaths, admitted his administration could have been more transparent.
“We should have done a better job providing more public information,” Cuomo said at the time.
©2021 New York Daily News. Visit nydailynews.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
This content is published through a licensing agreement with Acquire Media using its NewsEdge technology.