This bill turned out to be more mountain than molehill.
The handmade “mountain” prop Gov. Andrew Cuomo trotted out at summer press briefings to illustrate the state’s COVID-19 battle cost the state $415.34 — more than twice the amount officials previously said, a report said Wednesday.
Cuomo used the glorified school project at a handful of briefings starting in late June, presenting it as a metaphor for New York’s work against the pandemic.
“We don’t need to climb another mountain. One mountain was enough,” he said, encouraging New Yorkers to wear masks and practice social distancing to keep the virus on the retreat.
Dani Lever, a spokeswoman for Cuomo at the time, told USA Today that the project cost about $185 reimbursed by Cuomo’s campaign war chest, was “made in-house,” and used supplies brought from “businesses in New York.”
But a Freedom of Information Law inquiry filed by the outlet revealed a different accounting.
In response to the request, the state released a receipt from Lowe’s — the national home improvement chain based in North Carolina — for 10 2-inch foam insulation boards measuring four-feet by eight-feet, and three cans of green Valspar paint, totaling $415.34.
A spokeswoman for the state Office of General Services, which purchased the supplies, explained the discrepancy by saying that only some of the items ended up being used in the mountain’s construction.
“Please note that, $183.72 worth of the materials from Lowes was used to create the mountain and the entire amount of the Lowes receipt was reimbursed by Governor Cuomo’s campaign,” Heather Groll told USA Today.
Groll repeated that the project was done “in house” by state employees, but couldn’t provide further details about who worked on it or for how long.
As of August, nearly 40,000 copies of the poster had been sold, to buyers from all 50 states and 33 total countries.
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