New details have emerged about how Melissa DeRosa — a top aide and trusted confidante to Gov. Andrew Cuomo — allegedly helped try to bury the sexual harassment allegations against her boss.
The scathing official report confirming the three-term Democrat Cuomo’s potentially criminal behavior states that DeRosa played a key role in leaking the personnel file of one accuser in an attempt to discredit her — something Attorney General Letitia James’ independent probers found amounted to unlawful retaliation.
The Cuomo consigliere also pressured at least one former staffer to “surreptitiously record” a phone call with a government aide in the hopes of finding out what dirt she potentially had on the governor, the report alleges.
DeRosa, 38, was hired by Cuomo in 2013, after earlier jobs as acting chief of staff for since-disgraced ex-Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and as the state director of the advocacy group Organizing for America.
The daughter of leading Albany lobbyist Giorgio DeRosa, she was promoted in 2017 to secretary to the governor, making her the first woman to hold the powerful position, which officially ranks her No. 1 on Cuomo’s staff.
A source who has frequent contact with both DeRosa and Cuomo previously told The Post that, “Melissa is very fiercely loyal and protective of the governor.”
“She can be very tough to deal with,” the source said, adding, “DeRosa is feared … If you cross her, you’re crossing the governor.”
DeRosa played a major role as secretary to the governor, in Cuomo’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, as well as the administration’s alleged cover-up of nursing-home COVID-19 deaths.
As The Post exclusively revealed, DeRosa privately told Democratic lawmakers that his administration stonewalled their requests for complete data on nursing home deaths from the virus.
She also helped him craft his lucrative memoir about the crisis, a project that has since come under scrutiny by the feds.
A top communications manager at Facebook helped Gov. Andrew Cuomo fight sexual misconduct allegations — including by helping leak confidential files about accuser Lindsey Boylan and by participating in regular discussions about Cuomo’s communications strategy, according to the New York attorney general’s bombshell investigation.
Dani Lever — who had worked in Cuomo’s press operation since 2014 but left in August 2020 to join Facebook as a communications manager — played a key role in Cuomo’s communications strategy even while working for Facebook, according to the investigation released Tuesday.
In December 2020, former Cuomo staffer Lindsey Boylan became the first of several women to accuse the governor of sexual harassment. Hours later, Cuomo communications director Rich Azzopardi decided to send Boylan’s confidential personnel files to several journalists in what investigators called an attempt to "discredit and disparage" her.
"Ms. Lever coordinated with some of the reporters who received the documents to let them know that the Executive Chamber would be sending them," reads the report.
The smear attempt came amid Lever’s broader participation in Cuomo’s defense as part of a "team of advisors from within and outside the Chamber [who] had ongoing and regular discussions about how to respond to the allegations publicly" that also included Cuomo’s CNN host brother Chris, according to the attorney general. Lever’s name appears 25 times in the attorney general’s report.
CNN anchor Chris Cuomo was among a group of advisors not employed by New York state who were provided confidential and privileged information by the Executive Chamber as his brother Gov. Andrew Cuomo tried to respond to a slew of sexual harassment allegations earlier this year, Attorney General Letitia James’ report revealed.
In the report, investigators led by Joon Kim and Anne Clark wrote that it was “revealing” that the governor enlisted a number of confidantes to respond to the allegations — including Chris Cuomo and political operative Lis Smith — who were never employed by the state.
“None of them was officially retained in any capacity by the Executive Chamber or any of the individuals involved,” the report states.
“Nonetheless, they were 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,” it adds.