NY Taxpayers Forced to Pay $2.5 Million to Defend Cuomo Against COVID Cover-Up Allegations

Taxpayers will be paying over $900 an hour for New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s legal defense against allegations surrounding his under-reporting of COVID-19 deaths in his state’s elder-care facilities and his alleged use of staffers to help write a book detailing his response to the pandemic.

The $2.5 million deal to fund the Democratic governor’s lead defense lawyer was made public by the New York Post following a Freedom of Information Request.

The deal was struck even though Cuomo is expected to earn over $5 million from his book about leading New York during the coronavirus pandemic, and the governor has around $17 million in campaign finances.

He has also scheduled a fundraising event in New York City this month and will charge $10,000 per person or $15,000 per couple for those who wish to attend.

Cuomo is facing state and federal investigations into his handling of nursing homes during the COVID-19 pandemic as well as his alleged use of government resources and state employees for his memoir.

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Cuomo has a salary of $225,000 but defended his decision to make New Yorkers foot his legal bills.

“The state — the way it works is the Executive Chamber has retained the counsel and that is a state expense,” he said during a news conference.

“That has been [the case] in every investigation. So that’s where we are now.”

He added that he was not paying any other lawyers with his own money or campaign cash “at this time.”

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Common Cause New York executive director Susan Lerner said that Cuomo’s fundraisers should be held to pay off his legal fees, “not to pad his war chest.”

“As Common Cause/NY has previously recommended, politicians who are subject to civil and/or criminal investigation should refrain from paying for their defense with either tax-dollars or campaign funds, and instead set up a Legal Defense Fund,” Lerner said.

“That way, they can transparently raise money from willing donors.”

Vivian Zayas, whose mother caught COVID-19 in a Long Island nursing home and died, called the situation a “travesty.”

“The people of New York are flipping the bill for his lawyer, and for the staff to help him write his book in the middle of the pandemic — we deserve answers,” the founder of the advocacy group Voices for Seniors said.

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Taxpayers will be footing the bill of five partners and related personnel at the firm of Morvillo Abramowitz Grand Iason & Anello until Feb. 15, 2023.

WNYW-TV reported that Elkan Abramowitz, a former criminal division chief at the Manhattan U.S. Attorney’s office, will be paid $937.50 an hour — a 25 percent discount from his normal fees.

The four other partners will each be paid $680 an hour for their services.

This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.

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