As Gov. Andrew Cuomo packs up and moves out of the Executive Mansion, a New York lawmaker is calling for an investigation into “ludicrous” state contracts given to a public relations firm with close ties to the disgraced governor.
In a letter released late Thursday, Assemblyman Ron Kim urged New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli to “audit and release all information” on $88 million worth of contracts between the state and Kivvit — a top public relations firm that also works with companies like Google, Citigroup, Tesla and Lyft and which employs former Gov. David Paterson.
The news comes two weeks after The Post reported that Kivvit has been raking in millions from state deals that were not subject to pre-audits — and the attorney general’s investigation found that two ex-Cuomo employees who were then managing directors at the firm helped Cuomo “discredit and disparage” sexual harassment accuser Lindsey Boylan.
“For the firm to be awarded such a lucrative sweetheart deal worth millions of dollars is beyond questionable,” Kim told The Post of Kivvit. “If you were part of a shady deal to serve the governor and participated in illegal acts your company should immediately be terminated and we should be clawing back any contracts.”
The two Kivvit managing directors named in the attorney general’s investigation as having helped leak Boylan’s confidential personnel files, Josh Vlasto and Rich Bamberger, were former Cuomo communications staffers.
The duo left Kivvit earlier this week, and the online bio of Kivvit managing partner Maggie Moran — who worked as Cuomo’s 2018 campaign director but was not named in the attorney general’s report — was quietly updated to remove all references to the disgraced governor.
Kivvit’s contracts with the state of New York include $85 million worth of ongoing media buying deals, which the company says bring in commissions of 4 to 10 percent.
The firm also has an ongoing $2 million consulting contract with the New York Department of Health — an agency that Kim and other lawmakers have said Cuomo arm-twisted into hiding thousands of nursing home coronavirus deaths.
Kivvit has said that Vlasto and Bamberger were acting in a “personal capacity” when they helped smear Boylan, and claimed that the state contracts were awarded after a competitive bidding process — but Kim, a Democrat from Queens, doesn’t buy it.
“It couldn’t pass the smell test,” Kim said. “What’s clear to anyone who’s looking in from the outside is that this is the governor’s inner circle of people who landed ludicrous contracts.”
“If there is even an inkling of corruption we need to immediately terminate the contract and possibly explore clawback clauses,” added Kim, who faced a barrage of racist hate earlier this year after he called out Cuomo over the governor’s handling of nursing homes during the pandemic.
Kim said he would have not called for the audit if The Post hadn’t uncovered Kivvit’s state deals — and added the comptroller must release all details about the bidding process for the contracts the company won, including what other firms submitted bids for the contracts and why Kivvit was chosen.
“The contracts referenced were competitively bid in a public, transparent process, and awarded in compliance with New York State Finance Law,” a Kivvit spokesperson said Friday.
“We have received the letter and are reviewing the request,” said DiNapoli spokesperson Matthew Ryan.
Cuomo spokesperson Rich Azzopardi previously dismissed the idea that personal relationships helped Kivvit land contracts as “the dumbest thing I ever heard.”
Vlasto and Bamberger were part of the governor’s “inner circle” that helped coordinate the governor’s response to sexual misconduct claims, according to the attorney general’s investigation. The group also included CNN host Chris Cuomo, former Pete Buttigieg communications director Lis Smith, Human Rights Campaign President Alphonso David and Facebook communications manager Dani Lever, among others.
Kim told The Post that Facebook and the Human Rights Campaign were failing to hold their employees accountable for helping the scandal-plagued governor — and called on Lever and David to be fired.
“If these entities like Facebook and the Human Rights Campaign are smart about putting their mission and their goals ahead of protecting people like Cuomo employees, they should cut their ties,” Kim said.
He said that “at a minimum” Facebook should hire an outside law firm to investigate Lever’s role advising the governor — a step that was recently taken by the Human Rights Campaign.
Facebook and the Human Rights Campaign did not immediately respond to requests for comment.