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Politics Cuomo book deal negotiation overlapped with hiding nursing home death toll: report

20:25  01 april  2021
20:25  01 april  2021 Source:   thehill.com

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New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) was reportedly in negotiations for a book deal when top aides were working to alter publicly released information on the number of coronavirus deaths at nursing homes in the state.

Andrew Cuomo wearing a suit and tie: Cuomo book deal negotiation overlapped with hiding nursing home death toll: report © Getty Images Cuomo book deal negotiation overlapped with hiding nursing home death toll: report

The New York Times reported Wednesday that the negotiations, which resulted in a $4 million deal for a book on the Cuomo administration's response to the pandemic, occurred at the same time aides worked to make edits on an impending Health Department report.

The newspaper, citing sources with knowledge of the book bidding process and an examination of the timeline of talks, reported an overlap between the negotiations for Cuomo's book and efforts to intervene in the Health Department report.

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Melissa DeRosa, one of Cuomo's top aides involved in the effort to withhold the true coronavirus death toll in nursing homes, also helped Cuomo with his book's development by attending meetings with publishers and editing drafts of the book, according to the Times.

Top Cuomo aide Stephanie Benton also reportedly twice asked assistants to print portions of book drafts and deliver them to Cuomo at the Executive Mansion in late June and early July.

The Times noted that one of Benton's directives came the same day in June when DeRosa organized a meeting with several top advisers to discuss the draft Health Department report on coronavirus deaths. DeRosa later privately admitted and apologized to New York Democratic lawmakers for withholding nursing home data.

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Emails and an early draft of Cuomo's book obtained by the Times indicated that the governor began working on the book as early as mid-June and relied on help from aides and staffers for editing and other work tied to the pandemic memoir.

Richard Azzopardi, a senior adviser to the governor, told the Times on Wednesday that there was no link between Cuomo's book, "American Crisis: Leadership Lessons from the COVID-19 Pandemic," and the coronavirus report.

"There is no connection between the report and this outside project, period," Azzopardi told the news outlet. "And any suggestion otherwise is just wrong."

The Hill has reached out to Cuomo's office for comment.

Cuomo was hailed early on in the pandemic for his daily news briefings and straightforward updates on the health crisis. His book, released in October, included a retelling of the pandemic in one of the states hardest hit by the virus.

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The governor has since faced mounting scrutiny over his administration's withholding of data on nursing home deaths as well as calls to resign over allegations of sexual harassment from multiple former aides and others.

The New York State Attorney General's office found in a report released in January that the state undercounted nursing home deaths by as much as 50 percent, and Cuomo faces an impeachment inquiry by New York state lawmakers over the issue.

Cuomo's office faced additional scrutiny on the death toll in nursing homes after The Wall Street Journal reported that Cuomo's top advisers not only intentionally withheld information, but pushed state health officials to alter the July Health Department report.

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usr: 0
This is interesting!