The New York state comptroller has asked the state's attorney general to investigate allegations that Gov. Andrew Cuomo used state resources in the "development and promotion" of his book on the coronavirus pandemic.
Attorney General Letitia James' office received the request to investigate the Democratic governor on Monday, her spokesman confirmed.
The attorney general's office has the authority to conduct civil investigations. However, it needs a referral from certain state entities to conduct a criminal investigation, including the governor himself, the state comptroller, or local district attorneys.
"We won't comment further on an ongoing investigation at this time," James' spokesman said.
The New York Times was the first to report the referral.
In an April 13 letter from state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli, he asks that James investigate "indictable" offenses related to the "use of property, services or resources of the state for personal purposes, private business purposes or other compensated non-governmental purposes" related to the drafting, editing, sale and promotion of Cuomo's recent book and any related financial or business transactions.
"Allegations have recently emerged that public resources may have been used in the development and promotion of the Governor's book, 'American Crisis: Leadership Lessons from the COVID-19 Pandemic,'" DiNapoli wrote.
"As Comptroller of the State of New York, I am vested with the broad constitutional and statutory duty and authority to, among other things, superintend the fiscal concerns of the state, audit the accounts of public officers and keep accurate and proper books, audit all state payments including the payroll for public employees, review and improved state contracts, and conduct audits of all state entities," DiNapoli added.
Jennifer Freeman, a spokeswoman for DiNapoli said, "We do not comment on pending investigations."
At a news conference Monday, Cuomo, when asked by reporters if state resources had been used to create his book, said that "some people volunteered to review the book. You look at the people that were mentioned in the book, I wanted to make sure they were OK with the mention. I wanted to make sure it represented what they did and the facts correctly so some people volunteered to help on the book."
In a statement to CNN, Rich Azzopardi, a senior adviser to the governor, said, "We have officially jumped the shark -- the idea there was criminality involved here is patently absurd on its face and is just the furthering of a political pile-on."
Azzopardi added that DiNapoli and James have been rumored to seek higher office.
"This is Albany politics at its worst -- both the Comptroller and the Attorney General have spoken to people about running for Governor and it is unethical to wield criminal referral authority to further political self-interest," he said.