Cuomo aides obtain subpoenas in sexual-harassment investigation


The New York state legal professional basic’s workplace has subpoenaed dozens of officers within the Cuomo administration, together with his prime aide, requesting that they produce paperwork as a part of an investigation of sexual-harassment accusations in opposition to the governor, in response to folks accustomed to the matter.

Melissa DeRosa, whose title is secretary to the governor and who has been on the middle of the state’s pandemic response, is among the many officers to obtain a subpoena earlier this month, the folks stated. Investigators for the legal professional basic have additionally questioned girls accusing Gov. Andrew Cuomo of inappropriate habits about their interactions with Ms. DeRosa, the ladies and their legal professionals stated.

Ana Liss, a former aide to Mr. Cuomo who has accused the Democratic governor of misconduct, stated that, throughout an interview with investigators, she was requested about Ms. DeRosa’s habits within the office.

Investigators requested about how Ms. DeRosa interacted along with her, stated Ms. Liss, who labored on the state Capitol in 2014. “They had been making an attempt to determine if I used to be focused by Melissa,” Ms. Liss stated.

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She instructed investigators she didn’t have many dealings with Ms. DeRosa, who on the time was Mr. Cuomo’s director of communications.

Paul Fishman, a lawyer representing Mr. Cuomo’s administration, stated: “Nobody must be shocked that the AG’s workplace is issuing requests for paperwork and interviewing witnesses, together with many who work for the governor. That occurs in each investigation, and it’s wildly untimely to invest what it means. Good, thorough, and truthful investigations take time.”

A lawyer for Ms. DeRosa referred The Wall Road Journal to Mr. Fishman for remark.

Three former feminine aides and two present feminine aides have accused Mr. Cuomo of sexual harassment or inappropriate office habits. The governor has denied touching anyone inappropriately and has apologized if his habits made anyone uncomfortable.

Andrew Cuomo’s accusers embody, from left, Lindsey Boylan, Charlotte Bennett and Anna Ruch.

The sexual-harassment probe is being overseen by New York Lawyer Normal Letitia James. Her workplace hasn’t accused Ms. DeRosa of any wrongdoing. A spokeswoman for Ms. James’s workplace declined to remark, citing a seamless inquiry.

New York state Attorney General Letitia James is seen Aug. 6, 2020. (Associated Press)

New York state Lawyer Normal Letitia James is seen Aug. 6, 2020. (Related Press)

Ms. DeRosa has been concerned in state politics for practically 20 years. She was deputy chief of workers to then-Lawyer Normal Eric Schneiderman earlier than becoming a member of Mr. Cuomo’s workers in 2013. She assumed the highest workers place in state authorities in 2017, overseeing the governor’s Government Chamber and different state businesses.

Through the pandemic, she has helped perform the state’s response together with actions involving nursing properties. The state’s nursing-home insurance policies and delay in releasing a full tally of nursing-home deaths because of Covid-19 at the moment are topics of a separate federal investigation.

State officers have stated the nursing-home coverage was crafted to protect hospital capability and was in keeping with federal steering on the time. They’ve stated knowledge had been launched when their accuracy was verified.

In a press release, Ms. DeRosa stated she cared deeply about public service and didn’t get a lot sleep in the course of the pandemic as a result of she was working lengthy hours.

“The very last thing I’d do in my day is name members of the family of healthcare staff who died and inform them I’m sorry for his or her ache, after which shut the door, lay on the ground and cry,” she stated in response to questions for this text. “I’m not the one-dimensional person who has been portrayed within the press.”

Ms. DeRosa has usually berated officers, lawmakers and journalists in profanity-laced cellphone calls and textual content messages once they have crossed the governor, in response to individuals who have acquired the communications.

“I’m not the one-dimensional person who has been portrayed within the press.”

— Melissa DeRosa

Melissa DeRosa. (Getty Images)

Melissa DeRosa. (Getty Photographs)

Wealthy Azzopardi, a senior adviser to Mr. Cuomo, stated, “Melissa is the very same particular person behind the scenes as she is on digicam—robust, hardworking, sensible, meticulously ready, and at all times preventing to enhance the lives of New Yorkers.”

In December, Lindsey Boylan, a former administration official, grew to become the primary girl to accuse Mr. Cuomo of sexual harassment. On the time, Ms. DeRosa and different aides and allies of the governor contacted former workers members to speak to them about Ms. Boylan, in response to folks accustomed to the matter.

Ms. Liss stated she acquired a cellphone name in December from Mr. Azzopardi asking if she had heard from Ms. Boylan. Ms. Liss stated she considered the decision as intimidation and mentioned the episode with Ms. James’s investigators.

Mr. Azzopardi stated that administration officers made a variety of calls after Ms. Boylan made her accusations however that they weren’t meant to intimidate. Mr. Cuomo has stated Ms. Boylan’s accusations are unfaithful.

Ms. DeRosa was a part of a detailed circle of aides who drafted a letter that referenced Ms. Boylan’s personnel data and referred to as folks to ask questions on her, stated the folks, together with some who spoke with Ms. DeRosa on the time.

The letter was by no means launched publicly, however administration officers supplied the data to a number of media retailers, in response to folks accustomed to the matter.

In response to questions concerning the letter and the discharge of the personnel data, Beth Garvey, performing counsel to the governor, stated: “With sure restricted exceptions, as a basic matter, it’s inside a authorities entity’s discretion to share redacted employment data, together with in situations when members of the media ask for such public data and when it’s for the aim of correcting inaccurate or deceptive statements.”

Ms. Boylan has stated she has by no means seen these data, questioned their authenticity and referred to as their launch an effort to smear her.

Ms. DeRosa was the highest official in a Feb. 10 assembly with state legislators during which she stated their requests for knowledge on nursing-home deaths had been sidelined due to a Justice Division inquiry into the matter. Ms. DeRosa stated the state feared releasing the data can be politicized by the administration of President Donald Trump, in response to a transcript.

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After that assembly, federal prosecutors primarily based in Brooklyn requested data from the state about nursing-home deaths as a part of an inquiry that can also be inspecting how the state granted immunity from lawsuits and felony prosecution to hospitals and nursing properties on the entrance traces of the coronavirus outbreak. The federal probe can also be how Ms. DeRosa and different advisers to the governor altered a July Well being Division report on nursing residence deaths, in response to folks accustomed to the matter.

Mr. Cuomo has stated he’s cooperating with each the federal and state inquiries.

Elkan Abramowitz, an out of doors lawyer employed by the state to signify the governor’s workplace within the federal inquiry, stated in a press release that the administration has been truthful and correct in its response to the Justice Division requests about nursing properties.

Write to Jimmy Vielkind at Jimmy.Vielkind@wsj.com, Khadeeja Safdar at khadeeja.safdar@wsj.com and Deanna Paul at deanna.paul@wsj.com

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