Edited by: TJVNews.com
As the impeachment probe of former NY Governor Andrew Cuomo continues, it has now been revealed that SUNY Chancellor James Malatras was interrogated by investigators for his role in working on Cuomo’s $5.1 million Covid memoir during normal work hours, according to a report in the NY Post.
Attorneys for the Assembly Judiciary Committee are looking into whether Cuomo used government resources and staff to write his book. Sources close to the case told the Post that Malatras helped edit and fact-check the manuscript last summer before he was selected to become the SUNY chancellor, at the recommendation of Cuomo.
The Post reported that only weeks are working on Cuomo’s tome in which the former governor credited himself with dealing with Covid crisis in an extraordinary manner, Malatras was appointed as SUNY chancellor by the university’s board of directors. A national search that customarily takes place for such a prominent position in academia was not conducted.
The source familiar the impeachment probe told the Post that: “Malatras admitted to the investigators that he worked on the book during work hours. Working on a 300-page manuscript is not a 15-minute job. How can he say no? His jobs were dependent on the governor. This was a profit-making book to enrich Andrew Cuomo. It wasn’t done for any government purpose. How is this legal?”
Prior to assuming the position of chancellor of the 64-campus public university system, the Post reported that Malatras appeared next to Cuomo during his daily press conferences in the first months of the Covid crisis in the spring of 2020. He was a key official on Cuomo’s COVID-19 task force, as was reported by the Post.
In addition to investigating this matter, the Assembly Judiciary Committee is also seeking information about the alleged cover up of government data on the actual number of nursing home deaths caused by Cuomo’s order to move hospitalized Covid patients to these facilities in March of 2020. Moreover, they committee is investigating the accusations of sexual misconduct against the former governor that were revealed in a recent report by New York State Attorney General Letitia James.
According to the Post report, Ms. James is also seeking information concerning state resources that were allegedly used to put together Cuomo’s book — “American Crisis: Leadership Lessons from the COVID-19 Pandemic.”
For this part, Malatras told the Post that he had worked two long weekends in late July or early August of last year to edit and fact-check Cuomo’s manuscript. He said that he also worked on two Fridays, having taken personal time off his duties to do it. He told the Post, “So what? I took time off. I was very happy to be done with it, too.”
He added that, “I tried to think of it as an extracurricular activity. I didn’t work on the book during business hours. I took time off. I testified as such.”
At the time, Malatras was the president of SUNY’s Empire State College, an online learning institution. The Post reported that he was earning a salary of $297,441 in this position. His income skyrocketed when he was appointed as SUNY chancellor in August of 2020. At that point he started to earn $359,630 per year. Malatras has denied that Cuomo used his influence to get him the SUNY chancellor position.
He said that he was asked to help with Cuomo’s book by the former governor’s secretary, Melissa DeRosa and executive aide Stephanie Benton, according to the Post report. He also claims that he was unaware that Cuomo would be bringing in $5 million for the book and had no idea that Cuomo had an agreement with the Joint Commission on Public Ethics not to use public resources to prepare the book.