According to text messages released this week by the New York Attorney General’s office, a Facebook manager who once worked for Andrew Cuomo secretly told the disgraced ex-governor’s team that the man accused of sexual assault ” Shame”.
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The messages showed that Facebook employees sought to cover up their involvement in advising the governor.
Danny Lever, a former Cuomo employee, wrote of his new employer in March, “Like I’m terrified to learn about FB working on this etc.” As of that message that evening, Cuomo spokesman Rich Azzopardi told Lever that he would remove his name from the news that was to come.
“Rich I could kiss you but it seems like bad form this week,” Lever replied as the governor was embroiled in allegations that he had treated employees inappropriately.
The two were scrambling to help Cuomo respond to the allegations that eventually led to his resignation. According to the messages, Lever, who has worked for Facebook since August 2020, advised the then governor’s team for months.
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In one instance, Lever helped Cuomo aides decide how to smear Cuomo employee Lindsay Boylan, who accused the governor of sexual harassment in December 2020.
“I think we may be on record as shame,” Lever wrote in a December 2020 message to Ezopardi and Melissa DeRosa, governor No. Lever also helped share Boylan’s personnel records with reporters, according to the attorney general.
Lever likens the “victim shaming” strategy to how President Joe Biden responded to former Senate staffer Tara Reade’s allegations of sexual misconduct during Biden’s 2020 campaign, the texts show.
“It was part of Biden’s response anyway. Biden Camp said ‘it didn’t happen at all’ then made a statement,” Lever wrote.
A few days later, Lever quipped Cuomo’s colleague Linda Lacewell, “I still don’t know why we’re even talking to Gov. lol. But I’m here along for the ride.”
Lever’s assignment for Cuomo also included confronting a former Cuomo employee for “liking” a tweet from an accuser named Charlotte Bennett.
“You liked Charlotte’s tweet? Call me,” Lever said in February in a series of messages to former employee, Andrew Ball. “Was that on purpose? Can you dislike it.”
Ball then replied “Done” and Lever replied with a heart emoji. Ball, who was no longer working for Cuomo, told investigators he did not like the tweet because he wanted to maintain his relationship with the governor and his team.
The messages were discovered by Cuomo as part of Attorney General Letitia James’ investigation into sexual misconduct, which eventually led to his resignation in August.
James has periodically released material from his investigation that Cuomo’s camp sought to portray as a politically motivated bid to promote his campaign for governor.
In addition to Lever’s messages, this week’s batch of documents also includes a 449-page copy James’ investigators told of a statement he made with Lever in June when they questioned him about his work for Cuomo and why he kept it a secret from Facebook.
“It’s something I was doing on my own personal time, and I’d prefer not to let Facebook know about it,” Lever said.
And while Lever testified that most of his behind-the-scenes work for Cuomo was done without Facebook’s knowledge, he said he had obtained permission from his Facebook supervisor to put his name on a February letter in which Boylan The claim was denied by Cuomo suggesting that they play the Strip. Poker in 2017 while on a taxpayer-funded jet.
“I asked permission,” said Lever. “She was fine with it.”
Ethics experts have raised concerns that Lever’s work with Cuomo could put Facebook on the wrong side of New York lobbying laws, which prohibit registered lobbyists from giving gifts of more than $15 to public officials. According to public records, Facebook has been a registered lobbyist in New York since at least 2019.
Since Lever works in communications, helping Cuomo navigate a public relations crisis is an illegal gift, according to David Grandeau, a former top ethics watchdog in New York State.
“It’s a gift to use your professional services and provide them for free to a public official,” Grandeau told The Post in September. “It’s a misdemeanor for her and it’s a misdemeanor for Facebook. It’s a clear violation.”
Andy Stone, a spokesman for Meta — now the parent company of Facebook — declined to comment on Lever’s work for Cuomo and potential lobbying law violations. Azopardi declined to comment. Lever did not respond to a request for comment.
Lever is one of the few Cuomo confidants who does not seem to have faced professional consequences for their roles in the scandal.
Cuomo’s brother Chris was suspended from his CNN show on Tuesday after the attorney general released a detailed explanation of how he coordinated the defense of his brother — and Alfonso David, the head of the human rights campaign, Time’s Up executives Tina Ten. And Roberta Kaplan, as well as two managing directors of public relations firm Kivwit, have stepped down or have been fired since James published his investigation in August.
After The Post initially reported Lever’s role in Cuomo’s defense, Republican US Rep. Lawmakers including Alice Stefnik and Democratic Assemblyman Ron Kim called for his sacking on Facebook. Kim also said that “at least” Facebook should hire an outside law firm to investigate Lever’s role in advising the governor – a move that was taken by the Human Rights Campaign before David was fired.
Peter Azemian, a former Cuomo employee who helped the governor fight sexual misconduct claims, took a job at Apple over the summer. The company has not commented on his role in the Cuomo scandal.