New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (L) speaks with Secretary to Governor Melissa DeRosa (R) during his daily press conference on March 20, 2020 in New York City.
Bennett Raglin | Getty Images
A firm run by the father of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s closest adviser was actively lobbying members of the governor’s team for clients earlier this year when former Cuomo advisors made allegations of sexual harassment and the governor was under investigation by the attorney general.
Giorgio DeRosa, the father of the governor’s powerful secretary Melissa DeRosa, is listed in lobbyists ‘disclosure reports as part of a group that actively engaged Cuomo’s staff in the Executive Chamber during Attorney General Letitia James’ investigation into the governor for alleged sexual harassment of several women, as records show.
The disclosure reports show that Giorgio DeRosa, a head of the influential Bolton-St. Johns and his team lobbied the Cuomo Executive Chamber from January through April. Melissa DeRosa’s brother, who also works at the company, is also listed in disclosure reports showing the group targeted the governor’s office during the same period.
Bolton-St. Johns made just over $ 80,000 in that time lobbying Cuomo’s team, the revelations show.
The first former Cuomo adviser went public in December on allegations of sexual harassment against the governor. James announced in late February that he would take over the investigation.
The attorney general’s report found that Cuomo sexually molested eleven women and violated state and federal laws. It is also alleged that Melissa DeRosa was an architect to protect the governor from the allegations. Cuomo continues to deny wrongdoing. A new Quinnipiac poll says 7 out of 10 voters think Cuomo should step down.
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Between January and February, Giorgio DeRosa was part of a team hiring Cuomo’s consultants on a variety of topics for phone giant Verizon, food service company Delaware North and casino giant Caesars Entertainment.
Recent lobbying by the team also targeted members of the attorney general of the Live Nation ticket company later in the year, although those investigating Cuomo were not listed as the people contacted by Giorgio DeRosa and his team.
Melissa DeRosa said she has withdrawn from anything to do with her father and her entire family. Giorgio DeRosa has stood up for Cuomo’s team in the past.
Still, the lobbying reports show that he and his company continued to have access to the governor’s inner circle at the start of and during an investigation highlighting his daughter’s role in the alleged attempt to protect the governor from scrutiny.
After CNBC asked questions about Melissa DeRosa’s father’s recent lobbying efforts, a Cuomo spokesman dismissed CNBC’s coverage as “nonsensical”. The spokesman reiterated that the governor’s secretary had withdrawn from all matters related to her family.
“As has been publicly announced for years, Melissa is being proactively withdrawn on any specific matter that involves members of her family, and the premise of this article is nonsensical,” Rich Azzopardi, a Cuomo spokesman, said in an e- Mail to CNBC on Friday.
Azzopardi is also mentioned repeatedly in the attorney general’s report.
The attorney general’s report shows, among other things, that in March Melissa DeRosa twice requested that Larry Schwartz, who was Cuomo’s Covid vaccine czar at the time, call the Democratic district governments to take her pulse on whether the governor should resign in light of the allegations.
“On the call, Ms. DeRosa asked Mr. Schwartz to contact the Democratic District Councils to clarify their positions on whether the governor should resign in light of the sexual harassment allegations. Mr. Schwartz said he agreed to make the calls because Ms. DeRosa, the governor’s secretary, had asked, “the report said. “Two weeks after Mr. Schwartz made his first round of calls, Ms. DeRosa asked him to make another round of calls to the county boards to review their positions. Mr. Schwartz made those calls again and reported back to Ms. DeRosa.”
Ethics experts have previously questioned Melissa DeRosa’s attempt to distance herself from her father. Susan Lerner, the executive director of the guard dog Common Cause / New York, told CNBC in a telephone interview on Friday that after she and her group initially asked Melissa DeRosa for greater transparency, she received a call from the secretary to the governor.
“She refuses to provide a list of the matters that she has withdrawn from. When she was first appointed we raised this issue and she said she would withdraw herself,” Lerner said. “We said, ‘OK, let the public know which of these customers you are not going to discuss with.’ She refused and called to yell at me and say it was out of my turn to address these issues. “
Lerner said there were always the appearances of ethical issues when Giorgio DeRosa swayed the governor’s office while his daughter worked for the governor.
“It’s built into the situation and that was clear from the start,” she said. “By the time she was selected, there would be at least the semblance of inappropriateness that everyone in the executive who met with her father was very much aware of the relationship between the governor’s secretary and the lobbyist’s meeting with. It certainly is obvious to customers. “
Melissa DeRosa was first appointed secretary in 2017.
Giorgio DeRosa defended the company, saying it always acted in accordance with the laws of the state.
“Bolton-St.Johns has been rated as the top lobbying firm in New York for over two decades. Clients hire our firm to leverage our diverse knowledge and political know-how to support effective results-oriented strategies, ”he said in an email on Friday. “This topic has been covered extensively by other media in the past, and only the impeccable compliance with state law has been reported.”
For Verizon, the Executive Chamber’s lobbying focused, according to the disclosure, on “New York State budget items that affect Verizon’s services” and an “ongoing approval issue at the Verizon workplace.”
During the same period, Giorgio DeRosa and his team, along with members of the state legislature, participated in the Cuomo Executive Chamber on “Sports Betting Issues in NYS”. [New York State]“For Caesars.
In April, Cuomo signed a budget bill for fiscal year 2022 that would enable online sports betting in the Empire State. Giorgio DeRosa’s group supported Cuomo’s team on the same issues for Delaware North, which also owns casinos.
Giorgio DeRosa’s lobbying work towards the Executive Chamber did not end there. It was not until April that he and his company continued to advocate for Caesars on issues related to sports betting.
From March through April, they also got access to the executive chamber of FuelCell Energy, a Connecticut-based clean energy provider.
Giorgio DeRosa and his law firm also targeted state legislators for FuelCell with discussions about the review of the “Definition of Renewable Energy in New York State”.