Well that’s a familiar figure in Cuomo-land.
The state Assembly Judiciary Committee quietly increased the total spending power for its now-defunct impeachment probe of Andrew Cuomo to a whopping $5.1 million in taxpayer funds — the same amount the former governor netted from his under-investigation book deal.
The contract with Davis Polk & Wardwell — the outside law firm hired to assist with the investigation — was amended on Nov. 4 to include an extra $4,870,000, according to records published online by state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli’s Office.
That’s a massive increase from the agreement’s original cap of $250,000 after the contract was first signed on April 20 and 21 — now bringing the contract’s total expected cost to $5,120,000.
It also provided a $600 hourly rate for four attorneys, plus a $250-per-hour fee for paralegals for work that began nearly eight months ago in mid-March.
Although the impeachment inquiry was suspended in August, the committee is expected to publicly release a report on its findings and lawmakers will travel to Albany next week to review the firm’s finished product.
Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles Lavine (D-LI) said on Wednesday that the report will include an analysis of “hundreds of thousands of documents, recordings, messages, memos, transcripts and other materials” plus interviews with 165 witnesses.
It will also be the first published report to include not just the sexual harassment allegations against Cuomo, but also a deep dive into the alleged withholding of COVID-19 nursing home data and allegations that government resources — including employees — were used to write and produce “American Crisis: Leadership Lessons from the COVID-19 Pandemic,” for which Cuomo was paid a reported $5.1 million.
Despite the amended cap, records show just $250,000 has actually been spent to date, but Cam Macdonald, an adjunct fellow at the Empire Center for Public Policy, told The Post the increase could indicate roughly eight months worth in back payments to the firm.
“There’s a reason they just bumped this up to over $5 million and it’s probably because the work has been done,” he said.
“You would expect this report to be very comprehensive, very thorough and not to have any holes. In light of the money that’s been spent and the hourly rate that was being charged, quite a few thousand hours of attorney time went into this.”
Haydee Pabey, whose 72-year-old mom died of COVID-19 at Manhattan’s Isabella Center for Rehabilitation and Nursing Care in April 2020, told The Post the $5.1 million total has to be more than coincidental.
“It’s kind of funny that that’s the number they came up with. It could be that they are trying to make it memorable, or use it as a gesture to say, ‘Hey you got $5.1 million [for the book] and we’re going to spend 5.1 million on the report, ”she said in an interview.
“I think it will be a smack in [former] governor Cuomo’s face and the thought that they are spending $5.1 million — that is such a coincidence that it is the same amount of money that he got for that book.”
Vivian Zayas, nursing home advocacy group founder of Voices for Seniors who also lost her mother to COVID-19 in an elder care facility, said she hopes the report’s release will bring justice to families who lost loved ones.
“As a grieving daughter, regardless of the money, we just want to know the truth — whatever it costs. We are always eager to get the information, but it’s about what happens afterwards. We want him held accountable,” she said of the ex-pol.
Meanwhile, Cuomo is still under investigation by the FBI / US Eastern District of New York for the nursing home data and book deal.
State Attorney General Letitia James is also conducting her own criminal investigation into the book agreement.
There’s also efforts underway by the Joint Commission on Public Ethics — the state’s watchdog panel — to potentially revoke the approval Cuomo was granted last summer to write the book while in office.
If rescinded, Cuomo would have to reapply to the commission for approval, and should that second try be denied he could face penalties or even lose the entire $5.1 million profit.
“It’s ironic, because it landed on the amount Cuomo had monetized on the nursing home scandal and that’s how much we’re laying out to get to the bottom of it,” said Assemblyman Ron Kim (D-Queen), a frequent Cuomo critic and nursing home advocate.
“This is taxpayer’s money and there’s political liability if we do not produce the report in an expeditious manner.”
“Every dollar should be accounted for. This isn’t my money, this isn’t the Assembly’s money, every email, every communication should be reported out in real time with the public and especially around an issue that is impacting thousands of families in New York State,” he added.