|RELEASE: Cuomo again attacks Attorney General James, using a Buffalo News story BY Chris Bragg about the cost of the investigation that found he sexually harassed multiple women.|
|Text of September 16, 2023 press release.|
Documents Reveal AG Defrauded the Court in Cuomo Evidence Case
Bombshell Buffalo News Report Catches Her Red Handed Stonewalling the Public & Gaslighting the Courts
Buffalo News story by Chris Bragg: https://buffalonews.com/news/local/govt-and-politics/attorney-generals-office-declines-to-detail-1-1m-in-taxpayer-spending-on-cuomo-case/article_c69e20cc-5301-11ee-a763-03f1d1edb097.html
Documents recently released under the state Freedom of Information Law demonstrate that Attorney General Tish James defrauded the court in order to prevent the release of documents that undermine her sham report on Governor Andrew M. Cuomo.
For the last two years James has refused to answer a single question about the many lies, false claims, and inconsistencies in this fraudulent report and has fought tooth and nail to keep much of the underlying evidence gathered during her investigation into the Governor out of the public eye.
As the Buffalo News today documented, her office has inked a multi-million dollar contract with the report’s author, Joon Kim, to redact key underlying evidence with the goal of “ultimately making them public” – while at the same time arguing in court to keep these same records secret.
She told the court her office doesn’t have the resources to do the necessary review and redactions needed to release these records, yet failed to mention to the judge that she hired Kim’s law firm more than a year ago to do just that and has paid it millions since the report was released.
“The truth is now clear: The AG’s report was a fraud designed so she herself could run for governor. Now she’s spending millions of taxpayer dollars on a cover-up because the evidence doesn’t support her findings,” Cuomo spokesman Rich Azzopardi said. “She lied to the judge, she lied to the legislature, and she lied to the people of the state of New York – and we wonder why people don’t trust the justice system.”
Documents show Kim’s firm, Cleary Gottlieb, initially signed a $2.5 million for the report. The firm has been paid $4 million more through two more extensions of its sweetheart sole source contract. A purpose for both, according to state contracting records, has been for the firm to perform “redactions.” All together, the firm has been paid $6.5 million, according to the Comptroller’s Office.
What exactly is the Attorney General trying to hide?
Cuomo’s legal team has petitioned the court to get to the bottom of this. You can read their legal motion here.
An annotated timeline of this latest cover up is below.
Timeline for Cleary Gottlieb contract
March 1 2021 - AG officially receives referral authority to investigate the Governor. As a condition of the referral, “an independent law firm” would be selected. https://ag.ny.gov/sites/default/files/letter_to_ag_3.1.21.pdf
March 8, 2021 Though the order calls for “an” firm, Cleary Gottlieb is one of two firms selected. (reference pg. 85) Despite a week’s turnaround, the AG’s office incredulously claims there was a” robust process for procurement.” (reference pg. 123. ) https://drive.google.com/file/d/17Q70Vs9YXYUi_1G7OHWjk_m9B4JzNMq-/view?usp=sharing
March 23, 2021, A letter of engagement is signed by the AG’s Office and Joon Kim, specifying that the contract is for 6 months or when the report is released. (reference pg. 92) The letter also specifies that the contract could be broken if the principal (Kim) leaves the firm. (reference pg. 92). The total contract amount is $2.5 million. https://wwe2.osc.state.ny.us/transparency/contracts/contracttransactions.cfm?Contract=0000000000000000000088368 The other firm Vladeck, Raskin & Clark PC’s contract was set at $950,000. https://drive.google.com/file/d/17Q70Vs9YXYUi_1G7OHWjk_m9B4JzNMq-/view?usp=sharing (reference pg. 130)
August 3, 2021 - The AG’s report is released.
Sept. 13, 2021 - The AG’s Office applies to extend Cleary’s sole source contract to Dec. 31, 2021 https://drive.google.com/file/d/17Q70Vs9YXYUi_1G7OHWjk_m9B4JzNMq-/view?usp=sharing (reference pg. 122) or “upon the completion of the retained scope of work.” https://drive.google.com/file/d/17Q70Vs9YXYUi_1G7OHWjk_m9B4JzNMq-/view?usp=sharing (reference pg. 39.)
The stated reason for their continued retention was because the scope of the investigation was broader than they anticipated and the firm “continued to provide support in the review and preparation of material referenced in the report, including transcripts and memos as well as assisting in our response to discovery requests.”https://drive.google.com/file/d/17Q70Vs9YXYUi_1G7OHWjk_m9B4JzNMq-/view?usp=sharing (reference pg. 122.)
The contracted amount is MORE THAN DOUBLED, increasing from $2.5 million to $5.4 million. ($2.87 million.) Vladeck, Raskin & Clark PC’s contract was similarly reinstated, extended, and raised to $1.2 million.
https://drive.google.com/file/d/17Q70Vs9YXYUi_1G7OHWjk_m9B4JzNMq-/view?usp=sharing (reference pg. 123.)
Oct. 27, 2021 - Cleary gets paid $1.68 million. https://drive.google.com/file/d/1VAy2TtdF9UBRH5WwSKbuY68ZhHwUoGIo/view?usp=sharing
Nov. 10, 2021 - First tranche of transcripts is released. The AG justified this release because some discovery was going to be turned over to Governor Cuomo as a result of a meritless and since dismissed criminal case in Albany County. https://ag.ny.gov/press-release/2021/transcripts-and-exhibits-independent-investigation-sexual-harassment-allegations
Nov. 24, 2021 - Cleary gets paid $802,104. https://drive.google.com/file/d/1QonCya3MabHoOPFGG92OkhScVJUKUeSI/view?usp=sharing
Nov. 29, 2021 - Second tranche of transcripts is released. https://ag.ny.gov/press-release/2021/additional-transcripts-exhibits-and-videos-independent-investigation-sexual
Dec. 31, 2021 - the contract lapses.
Jan. 20, 2022, AG released the “final” (their word) round of transcripts. https://ag.ny.gov/press-release/2022/transcripts-exhibits-and-videos-independent-investigation-sexual-harassment. All together 41 transcripts were released. According to the AG’s office, 179 people were interviewed, some multiple times.
Feb. 17, 2022, Trooper 1 files suit against the Governor and others
May 31, 2022, Cuomo’s legal team informs the court that it intends to subpoena the Attorney General for underlying evidence gathered during her investigation to prepare for the Governor’s defense.
June 2, 2022 - The AG’s office requests that Cleary Gottlieb’s contract be reinstated and extended for another year and the cap be raised to $6.7 million.
“OAG is requesting additional funds in the amount of $1,300,040.00 for contract C105803 and a time extension for both contract until May 31, 2023. The additional scope of work being provided by both firms are as follows:
(a) the need to conduct redactions of voluminous amounts of transcripts, exhibits, and documents which were ultimately making them public;
(b) the need to ensure that the redactions are being made consistently across a wide range of materials and is independent sufficiently protective of the privacy and other interests;
(c) the need to provide substantial materials to various law enforcement agencies in a coordinated fashion;
(d) the need to make corresponding redactions to various video depositions, a time-consuming and labor-intensive process using a special video redaction tool; and
(e) to manage and respond to actions taken by various parties following the public release of the report and the underlying evidence and material.” https://drive.google.com/file/d/17Q70Vs9YXYUi_1G7OHWjk_m9B4JzNMq-/view?usp=sharing (reference pg. 118.)
The wording and the fact that this extension (of a technically lapsed contract) makes it clear that there was an ongoing need for this work, not for previous work that had been completed in January.
(The other firm Vladeck, Raskin & Clark PC’s contract was similarly reinstated and extended, but the overall maximum amount of the contract remained at $1.2 million with $117,778.23 under the cap remaining.) https://drive.google.com/file/d/17Q70Vs9YXYUi_1G7OHWjk_m9B4JzNMq-/view?usp=sharing (reference pg. 120.)
Oct. 5, 2022 - Cleary gets paid $2.3 million https://drive.google.com/file/d/1evp7er8thUm4xmRZGWVX9p0mk5zyD7Q5/view?usp=sharing
Feb. 7, 2022 - The New York Daily News files a FOIL request for 178 interview memos. That request was reportedly denied due to attorney client privilege. https://docs.google.com/document/d/1encdBnVy-OlmidrWfI1gB_D4YEtUdazW2_wj3aD7rJs/edit?usp=sharing
Feb. 16, 2023 - Cleary gets paid $1.12 million. https://drive.google.com/file/d/1rvTtI_VXEa89WLiMtfuUjiVQtgLPHFPM/view?usp=sharing
July 11, 2022-3 - former Governor Cuomo served a Rule 45 subpoena on the AG’s Office, seeking documents related to its investigation and report. https://drive.google.com/file/d/19oRZd8lc6qhXXKXTxf8g8sSo8movBC-l/view?usp=sharing (reference pg. 7) The AG moves the quash arguing among other reasons that “production would impose an undue burden on the AG’s Office.” (ref. Pg 26).
March 28, 2023 - Cleary was paid $599,581.55 March 28, 2023 -https://drive.google.com/file/d/1YgZTfFYV2sbsWm1uVqqmRGlc9K-lBP8o/view?usp=sharing
CLEARY HAD BEEN PAID $4,025,652.49 SINCE THE CONTRACT’S SECOND EXTENSION https://drive.google.com/file/d/19JMWBFb6Wou8azCeupnTP5aEBOq4oLal/view?usp=sharing
May 31, 2023 - The Cleary contract lapses once again.
July 21, 2023 - U.S. Magistrate Merkl sides with the AG’s Office ruling in part that “In light of the breadth of the documents Movant seeks, and the enormous undertaking it would require of the AG’s Office to produce the files, the Court finds that compelling a response to the OAG subpoena would result in a significant expenditure of resources and expense by a non-party.” https://drive.google.com/file/d/19oRZd8lc6qhXXKXTxf8g8sSo8movBC-l/view?usp=sharing
July 25, 2023 - Rita Glavin files a Freedom of Information Law request with the AG’s Office seeking “1. Notes and interview memoranda reflecting statements made by the 179 witnesses who the OAG interviewed during the course of the investigation. 2. For the witnesses whose testimony to the OAG as part of the investigation was publicly released by the OAG in redacted form, copies of the unredacted transcripts and/or unredacted video testimony for those individuals.”
Aug. 30, 2023 - While this was the same request as the NY Daily News, the AG’s Office gave a different response, stating “We estimate that, by March 1, 2024, we will be able to begin producing to you the records that respond to your request. This additional time is needed for the following reasons:
• limited resources available at the agency;
• the volume of records that must be reviewed in order to respond to your request; and
• the detailed nature of the review required to respond to your request.”
At the time of this response, it had not publicly disclosed that Clearly had been on retainer for a year “to conduct redactions of voluminous amounts of transcripts, exhibits” and had been paid more than $4 million during the last contract extension alone to do such work.
To date $6.49 million has been paid out. https://wwe2.osc.state.ny.us/transparency/contracts/contractresults.cfm?ID=48646