A top executive at politically connected public relations firm Kivvit resigned less than a month before newly released documents showed she had been aware of disgraced Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s plans to discredit sexual harassment accusers.
Maggie Moran, Cuomo’s 2018 reelection campaign manager and a current managing partner at swanky PR firm Kivvit, was in the governor’s mansion in February when accuser Lindsey Boylan published a blog post saying that the then-governor kissed her without her consent and asked her to play strip poker on a taxpayer-funded jet, according to testimony from Cuomo confidante Steve Cohen.
Moran was also included in group messages where other Cuomo staffers and allies plotted how to discredit Boylan and kill news coverage of the governor’s pervy behavior, according to documents recently released by Attorney General Letitia James.
In one February email chain that included Moran, other Cuomo allies discussed how to discredit Boylan’s strip poker claims and drafted a statement that included the line, “there are not even any cards on the plane.” Cuomo aide Melissa DeRosa wrote that she was setting up a call with members of the group chat to discuss the draft.
Then in March, DeRosa sent a message to Moran, Facebook staffer Dani Lever, Cuomo staffer Rich Azzopardi and other Cuomo allies, saying, “Important call need u guys on.”
While DeRosa didn’t say what the call was about, it took place the day before the Albany Times-Union published a story about a Cuomo aide who said the governor had groped her.
In another March group chat that also included Moran, ex-Pete Buttigieg campaign maven and Cuomo ally Lis Smith described berating a New York Times reporter, telling him that a story about accusations against the governor was “pathetic and an embarrassment.”
Despite Moran’s inclusion in weeks of messages, she insisted in a statement to The Post that she never responded with any advice about the sexual harassment claims or participated in any calls about the issue.
“I can not control being included in an email,” Moran told The Post. “In fact, I repeatedly asked to be removed from emails regarding the sexual assault allegations detailed in the Attorney General’s report and never engaged in those communications. When asked to join calls regarding allegations of sexual assault, I chose not to participate in them — every time.”
Moran’s claim that she asked to be removed from the email threads does not appear to be supported by any of the messages released by the attorney general.
Moran added that she had visited the governor’s mansion as a campaign advisor “on occasion to discuss a variety of topics” but said that she had “never been there to discuss sexual assault allegations” — despite Cohen’s testimony that Moran was present on the day that Boylan’s blog was published.
“I never engaged personally or professionally in developing any responses to the sexual harassment allegations detailed in the Attorney General’s report,” Moran said. “I am deeply troubled by the report and its findings. I believe the women who came forward and have great respect for their bravery.”
She did not respond to a follow-up question about why her respect for Cuomo’s accusers did not lead her to speak out when she saw advisers making plans to discredit them.
Meanwhile, Josh Vlasto and Rich Bamberger, two other Cuomo press staffers-turned-Kivvit employees, appear to have been more intimately involved in Cuomo’s defense than Moran. Vlasto helped spread Boylan’s personnel file to the press in an attempt to “discredit and disparage” her, while Bamberger helped gather signatures for a letter attacking her credibility, according to the attorney general.
The duo left the firm in August after The Post reported on their roles helping Cuomo and a series of lucrative contracts between Kivvit and state agencies. At the time, Kivvit also quietly updated Moran’s online bio to remove any mention of her work on Cuomo’s 2018 campaign. The company insisted that Bamberger and Vlasto had been acting entirely in their personal capacities when they helped Cuomo.
Yet documents show Moran was in multiple message threads alongside Vlasto and had been invited to join at least one group call that included him, showing that she was at least aware of his role defending Cuomo.
The news of Moran’s connections to the Cuomo scandal comes less than a month after she announced plans to leave Kivvit to work in the marijuana industry.
“The next chapter of my career will be in the cannabis industry to advance racial equality and women’s mental health and wellness,” Moran said in a November statement announcing her departure that made no mention of her work for Cuomo. “As Maya Angelou said, ‘Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.’”