Facebook comms manager aided smearing of Cuomo accuser, says N.Y. Attorney General report

The Facebook communications manager had been Gov. Cuomo's press secretary.

Published: August 4, 2021 9:38pm

Updated: August 4, 2021 11:56pm

A Facebook communications manager who previously worked for New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo helped smear one of his accusers and aided in his communications strategy, the New York Post reports.

Dani Lever, who was part of Cuomo's press team from 2014 to September 2020, aided her former boss's staffers in December to send out confidential personnel files of the governor's first accuser, Lindsey Boylan, to multiple journalists in an effort to "discredit and disparage" her, according to New York Attorney General Letitia James's report on her investigation of sexual misconduct allegations against Cuomo.

At the direction of a few Cuomo staffers, "Lever coordinated with some of the reporters who received the documents to let them know that the Executive Chamber would be sending them," the report reads.

Lever was part of "the Governor's team of advisors from within and outside" his office that "had ongoing and regular discussions about how to respond to the allegations publicly." Among the outside advisers was his brother, CNN anchor Chris Cuomo, according to the report.

The governor's team also "worked on a draft letter or op-ed" that "included complaints against Ms. Boylan that were part of the Confidential Files," according to the report.

"The letter denied the legitimacy of Ms. Boylan's allegations, impugned her credibility, and attacked her claims as politically motivated (including with theories about connections with supporters of President Trump and a politician with an alleged interest in running for Governor)," reads the report.

Melissa DeRosa, the secretary to the governor, "thought the letter would backfire, in part because the draft included information that was based on hearsay and secondhand sources and 'it would be really hard to get anyone to sign it.'" Cuomo told her to get input on it from Roberta Kaplan, an attorney at the firm Kaplan Hecker & Fink LLP, who was counsel to DeRosa in the attorney general's investigation.

"Ms. Kaplan read the letter to the head of the advocacy group Times Up, and both of them allegedly suggested that, without the statements about Ms. Boylan's interactions with male colleagues, the letter was fine," the report continues. Times Up is a #MeToo movement organization that "insists upon a world where ... no one lives in fear of sexual harassment or assault," according to their website.

Lever was asked to sign the letter, but declined, suggesting "that the letter amounted to 'victim shaming,'" the report reads.

Lever was one of the outside advisers that was never "officially retained in any capacity by the Executive Chamber or any of the individuals involved," according to the report. However, she was "regularly provided with confidential and often privileged information about state operations and helped make decisions that impacted State business and employees — all without any formal role, duty, or obligation to the State."

Reached by phone by the New York Post, Lever said "she could not talk because she had to attend a meeting," the Post reported. "Lever and Facebook's broader press team did not immediately reply to questions sent by email, including about whether Lever had Facebook's permission to work with the governor."

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