Two former Cuomo employees who helped their former boss smear sexual harassment accuser Lindsey Boylan work for a politically-connected public relations firm that is racking up millions in state contracts, government records and investigation show. Attorney General.
Public relations firm Kivvit said its chief executives Josh Vlasto and Rich Bamberger – who are accused of helping Cuomo’s office “discredit and denigrate” Boylan – were working for the governor in their personal capacity at the time.
But the company also does significant business with New York State and is responsible for distributing approximately $ 88 million in taxpayer dollars, public records show.
This includes a $ 75 million contract for media buying services with the State General Service Office. The deal began in 2018 and ends in 2024, according to records.
Kivvit also entered into a $ 10 million deal with the State University of New York system for ‘strategic planning and media buying services’ which began in 2019 and will run through December. .
A spokesperson for Kivvit – which also counts Google, Tesla, Citigroup, Lyft, Delta Airlines, Madison Square Garden, Princeton University and the US Olympic Committee among its clients – said the company took commissions from 4 to 10% on media purchase contracts. This means that the General Services and SUNY Agreements put at least $ 3.4 million and $ 8.5 million of taxpayer money in the company’s coffers.
Kivvit also has an outstanding $ 2 million consulting contract and two other more modest marketing and public relations contracts with the New York Department of Health, according to the records.
When asked if the personal roles of Vlasto and Bamberger advising the governor played a role in helping Kivvit secure contracts with New York State, Cuomo’s spokesman Rich Azzopardi replied: ” It’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard. ”
“The point is that any state contract awarded to the company was part of a competitive public tendering process,” said a spokesperson for Kivvit. âOur national team of professionals are doing similar work for many states across the country.â
Vlasto declined to comment and Bamberger could not be contacted directly.
According to the attorney general’s investigation, Vlasto and Bamberger were part of a âinner circleâ of outside advisers who âactively consultedâ the governor who had been battered by the scandal. The group also included CNN host Chris Cuomo, former communications director of Pete Buttigieg Lis Smith, human rights campaign chairman Alphonso David and Facebook communications director Dani Lever, among others.
In an interview with investigators, Cuomo’s senior assistant Melissa DeRosa said Vlasto first came up with the idea of ââleaking Boylan’s personnel records to reporters after Boylan accused the governor of misconduct in December. .
Bamberger was then one of many people who “coordinated with some of the journalists who received the documents to let them know that the Executive Chamber would send them,” according to the attorney general’s report.
Vlasto – who served as Cuomo’s chief of staff from 2013 to 2014 and also worked for New York Senator Chuck Schumer – told investigators he believed Boylan’s files provided “relevant context for reporters … being given that Lindsey [Boylan] was on charges of harassment âand added that he believed Cuomo had wanted or approved the leak.
Boylan’s lawyers say the leak of his personal files constitutes illegal retaliation and plan to prosecute the governor and his entourage.
In March, when Cuomo was confronted with a new round of allegations of sexual harassment, the governor asked Vlasto to “take charge of political and press operations by directing the response to the assembly and to all. [the] investigations, âVlasto told investigators.
Vlasto added that he declined for personal reasons and because he did not support the overly negative tone Cuomo’s team adopted in response to the allegations.
In December, Bamberger – who had been Cuomo’s communications director before joining Kivvit – helped Cuomo attempt to collect signatures for a letter in December that “attacked [the] credibility âof Boylan and suggested she could work with supporters of then-President Donald Trump and a politician who wanted to overthrow Cuomo as governor, according to the attorney general’s investigation.
The letter was never made public but was reviewed by a Post reporter.
– Additional reporting by Alexandra Steigrad