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Cuomo book, campaign email list tied

ALBANY – The publisher of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s new book confirmed this week that it used an email list generated by the governor’s campaign committee to promote his 528-page memoir.

HarperCollins said that it “did rent a list from Gov. Cuomo’s campaign for onetime use to promote Gov. Cuomo’s new book.”

The spokeswoman for the publisher, Tina Andreadis, would not say how many individual emails were obtained or how much was spent on the list, other than to say that “market value” was paid.

The Cuomo campaign declined to comment and referred any questions to HarperCollins. The governor’s book, “All Things Possible,” which was published last week, has not gotten off to blockbuster sales; reported Thursday that it was No. 8,129 on its sales list of books, and New York City media outlets reported relatively sparse attendance at a book-signing last week and first-week sales of 945 copies.

The Buffalo News reported last week that Cuomo’s campaign finance director sent an email to donors encouraging them to attend that book-signing in Manhattan and to buy “a few”’ copies of his book for friends and family. The campaign said that the email did not go out to all supporters on Cuomo’s email list but was confined to about 50 people.

The latest public relations pitch for Cuomo’s book was first revealed by Bill Mahoney, chief researcher for the New York Public Interest Research Group. Mahoney said that he was contacted by HarperCollins – with information about the book and various Web links to buy a copy – via an email account he says he set up in 2007. He said that since then, the email account has only been used by the state Democratic Party or whatever Democratic governor has been in office in the last seven years.

“The NYS Democratic Party is now using their email list to promote Cuomo’s private business interest,” Mahoney tweeted.

“The line between campaigns and candidates’ private business interests shouldn’t be blurred,” Mahoney said later. “Political parties should exist to help elect candidates, not to gather information they can sell to help their top official sell more books.’’

Republican gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino has been criticizing Cuomo for the timing of the book’s release and for what he says has been the use of state resources, such as the governor’s State Police detail to accompany him to a book-signing. He has also called on Cuomo to release the details of the lucrative book contract. A state ethics filing earlier this year by Cuomo reported that he will make at least $700,000 on the book deal.

Jessica Proud, an Astorino spokeswoman, called the use of campaign emails to promote the governor’s book “definitely unethical.”

“The governor has shown time and again that he considers himself above the law,” Proud said. “There needs to be an immediate investigation into his activities surrounding this book deal.”