Taxpayers are being forced to shell out greater than $900 an hour for Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s lead defense lawyer, to assist him attempt to fend off a number of allegations of sexual harassment, costs that he used staffers to assist write a book detailing his dealing with of the pandemic and claims that he and aides hid from the general public the true loss of life toll amongst sufferers of nursing houses.
The $2.5 million deal, revealed in a contract made public by means of a Freedom of Information Request by The Post, was struck despite the fact that Cuomo sold the rights to his coronavirus memoir for $5.1 million and has round $17 million in his marketing campaign struggle chest.
The three-term Democrat can be holding a $10,000-a-head fundraiser later this month amid an ongoing impeachment probe by the state Assembly’s Judiciary Committee.
But Cuomo — who leads the nation’s governors with a $225,000 annual wage — defended his resolution to stay hard-working and closely taxed New Yorkers together with his legal payments.
“The state — the way it works is the Executive Chamber has retained the counsel and that is a state expense,” he stated throughout a information convention at Manhattan’s Javits Center.
“That has been [the case] in every investigation. So that’s where we are now.”
Asked if he was paying another attorneys out of his personal pocket or with marketing campaign money, Cuomo stated, “Not at this time.”
The head of the good-government group Common Cause New York stated Cuomo “should be holding fundraisers in the middle of an ongoing investigation to pay off his legal fees — not to pad his war chest.”
“As Common Cause/NY has previously recommended, politicians who are subject to civil and/or criminal investigation should refrain from paying for their defense with either tax-dollars or campaign funds, and instead set up a Legal Defense Fund,” govt director Susan Lerner stated.
“That way, they can transparently raise money from willing donors.”
The contract confirms that along with investigating the Cuomo administration’s dealing with of nursing houses amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the feds are probing the publication of Cuomo’s memoir, which reportedly concerned work by state workers.
The Post solely revealed the latter aspect final month, when state Senate Health Committee Chairman Gustavo Rivera (D-The Bronx) detailed his almost three-hour interview by FBI brokers and federal prosecutors.
Vivian Zayas, who based the “Voices for Seniors” advocacy group after her mother caught COVID-19 in a nursing home and died, known as the scenario a “travesty on top of a travesty.”
“The people of New York are flipping the bill for his lawyer, and for the staff to help him write his book in the middle of the pandemic — we deserve answers,” she stated.
The contract additionally says that the Department of Justice, in addition to “other law enforcement or investigative entities” have additionally “made inquiries and requests for information related to…other pandemic related matters.”
The two-year deal, which runs by means of Feb. 15, 2023, covers the companies of 5 companions and associated personnel on the powerhouse agency of Morvillo Abramowitz Grand Iason & Anello.
Founding associate Elkan Abramowitz, a former prison division chief on the Manhattan US Attorney’s Office, might be paid $937.50 an hour, which the contract says represents a 25 % low cost from his regular charge.
It’s additionally the identical quantity Abramowitz charged when his agency represented Cuomo throughout a probe into his untimely shuttering of the Moreland Commission on Public Corruption in 2014.
The agency made $3.1 million representing Cuomo throughout that investigation, which ended in 2016 with then-Manhattan US Attorney Preet Bharara saying there was “insufficient evidence to prove a federal crime.”
The 4 different companions — three of whom are former federal prosecutors — will every be paid $680 an hour, which the contract says is a 15 % low cost from their regular charges.
The complete quantity of the settlement is 10 occasions the $250,000 allocated by the state Assembly for legal assist with its impeachment probe from the legislation agency of Davis Polk & Wardwell, which has 4 companions every being paid $600 an hour.
Last month, Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles Lavine (D-Long Island) described the quantity as an “initial cap” and vowed that lawmakers would spend as much “as needed” on their sprawling investigation, which additionally entails the torrent of sexual harassment accusations in opposition to Cuomo.
Those allegations and others are additionally under investigation by outdoors attorneys employed by state Attorney General Letitia James.