An attorney hired by disgraced Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-NY) previously worked to defend media mogul and convicted rapist Harvey Weinstein. While representing Weinstein, this attorney hired a company to dig up dirt on one of the producer’s accusers.
The attorney, Elkan Abramowitz, was hired by Cuomo’s office in March to represent the governor and his top aides while the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) considered an inquiry into the Cuomo administration’s nursing home policy in the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic. The DOJ ultimately dropped its inquiry into Cuomo’s policy, as well as two other Democrat governors’ nursing home policies.
Even though the DOJ decided not to investigate Cuomo further, Abramowitz is still representing the governor’s office. In an email to The Daily Wire, Abramowitz said that his firm represents the executive office in “connection with ongoing inquiries concerning nursing homes, the Governor’s book deal, priority testing and the Mario Cuomo Bridge.”
The New Yorker’s Ronan Farrow published an article on August 10 naming Abramowitz as “an attorney for Cuomo.” Abramowitz was quoted regarding a 2014 phone call Cuomo made to Obama White House senior adviser Valerie Jarrett, reportedly “ranting and raving” about then-U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Preet Bharara’s investigation into Cuomo’s dismantling of a commission looking into New York government corruption. Abramowitz told Farrow that Cuomo acknowledged making contact with the White House regarding Bharara but didn’t offer details.
“If Bharara thought this was obstruction of justice, he would have said so at the time,” Abramowitz told Farrow.
His connection to Cuomo is significant because of the attorney’s history of trying to smear accusers. It’s one thing to refute an accuser’s story, but Abramowitz went further than that while representing Weinstein. As the Washington Free Beacon’s Chuck Ross reported last week, Abramowitz hired the firm K2 Intelligence “to dig up dirt on the sexual history of Ambra Battilana Gutierrez, an Italian model who accused Weinstein of raping her in 2015.”
“K2 then allegedly fed the information, which included an allegation that Gutierrez worked as a prostitute, to the Manhattan district attorney’s office,” Ross continued.
Months before Cuomo hired Abramowitz, his own office attempted to smear one of his accusers by releasing her confidential personnel files to media outlets. The information was included in New York Attorney General Letitia James’ report detailing the sexual misconduct allegations against Cuomo. In one section of the report, James’ office details how one of Cuomo’s top advisers, Rich Azzopardi, sent confidential personnel information about one of Cuomo’s accusers to multiple media outlets. Under the headline “The Release of Confidential Files Relating to Ms. [Lindsey] Boylan,” the AG’s office explained how shortly after Boylan publicly accused Cuomo of sexual harassment in a tweet, one of Cuomo’s top aides requested Boylan’s “full file.”
DeRosa shared Boylan’s December 2020 tweets with Alphonso David, former counsel to Cuomo, and Linda Lacewell, the Superintendent of New York’s Department of Financial Services. DeRosa at that time texted David asking to see Boylan’s “full file,” according to the AG report.
David, who at that time was the president of the Human Rights campaign, told DeRosa that another staffer should be able to provide the file for Boylan’s time in the governor’s office. On December 11, 2020, just two days after Boylan’s first tweet about Cuomo, David sent Azzopardi “files relating to his investigation into and counseling of Ms. Boylan shortly before her departure from the Executive Chamber that he had retained and taken with him when he left the Executive Chamber.” The report refers to these files as the “Confidential Files,” which included:
- a September 20, 2018 memorandum to Mr. David Regarding ‘Confidential Personnel Matter”;
- a September 26, 2018 memorandum to Mr. David labeled “Draft, privileged and confidential – Attorney Client Privileged Communication / Intra-Agency Communication / Memo to File”;
- a September 30, 2018 email from Mr. David labeled “Privileged and confidential / Attorney client communication / Attorney work product.”
Azzopardi sent the files to multiple journalists, including reporters for The New York Times and the Associated Press.
The content of those confidential files included complaints against Boylan, the AG’s office explained. The files sent to reporters had the names of the complainants “redacted with Wite-Out.”
This story has been updated to clarify that Abramowitz represents the governor’s office in the numerous inquiries, but does not represent Cuomo personally.