Monetizing the Office
It was just hallway talk, but it had quite an effect on us.
We had an exchange with a prominent person in Albany yesterday. This individual is a lawyer who knows his stuff.
The conversation began simply enough. We observed that the Governor had a tough week. We were referring to the Dicker thing, the deletion of emails thing and the book deal thing.
Our reference to the book deal triggered an animated response from our friend. He said: “Of all the issues that are swirling, that’s the most problematic.”
“The book deal? How so?” we said.
“Think about it: The Governor was paid $700,000.”
“That’s a sweet advance, but why would that be a problem?”
“It’s Silver all over again.”
“Shelly was paid 700k and Andrew was paid 700k. What did they do for that money?”
“Silver facilitated referrals to a law firm and Cuomo wrote a book.”
“Both of them monetized their office.”
“Nah. That can’t be.”
“Really? Would Cuomo have got a book deal without being Governor? Of course not. Nobody would read a book about him if he wasn’t Governor.”
“Well, nobody seems interested in the book anyway,” we quipped.
“Cuomo personally received $700,000 or more for doing what? He didn’t write that book. You know that. He’s politically smart, but he’s not a reader or a writer. His staff wrote the book for him and that’s another problem.”
“But lots of governors do the same thing.”
“And lots of legislators are rainmakers. You can make the case that Cuomo’s monetizing of the Governor’s office was more egregious than Silver’s because he used staff to do it and it produced less value.”
“Produced less value?”
“Silver received 700k, right? That was for generating referrals for the law firm. And what was the value of the referrals? If he got one mesothelioma case, it might have been worth 100k to the law firm. If he got two it was worth 200k. We don’t know how many referrals he generated. Maybe it was half a dozen. Maybe it was a hundred. But you know there was some value generated. Now think about Cuomo. He and his government staff produced a book that was worth what? Well, the book tanked. That means that Cuomo was paid $700,000 for nothing of value.”
“Isn’t this just a bad decision by the publisher? They thought his book would sell. They took the risk on it and they were wrong. That’s the nature of their business.”
“That’s true. But how did the book deal come together. Did he write it and show it to them. No. He got a huge advance and that advance looks like a sweetheart deal. He got a huge up front payment. He’s getting a cut rate on purchases of the book that he can then provide to his supporters for promotional purposes. He also benefits from the promotion of the book by the publisher. He’s making out like a bandit. He monetized his office, didn’t he?”
“When you say it like that, it’s hard to disagree.”
“And we haven’t even mentioned the other side of it. What benefits accrued to the publisher? How did News Corp. benefit? Nobody has looked at that. Nobody has gone back 10 years like Preet did with Silver. What did Cuomo do in office as AG or as Governor that benefitted News Corp. Silver directed a grant to a hospital for cancer research in 2005 and they called it a bribe in 2015. What did Cuomo do for News Corp during the last 10 years? I’ll bet you could find something, no?”
“This can’t be.”
“This is the world we live in. If Preet can make a case against Silver, he can make a case against Cuomo.”