NEW YORK: Caught in the middle of the latest Wall Street analyst e-mail imbroglio, the 92nd Street Y has retained crisis PR firm Citigate Sard Verbinnen, according to sources close to the situation.
The Y runs the exclusive nursery school that became the center of controversy two weeks ago when a former Wall Street analyst was accused of publishing misleading research as part of a convoluted plot to gain his children admittance to the school. Sard was tapped mostly due to the firm's relationship with the Y's law firm, Kasowitz, Benson, Torres & Friedman.
Sard was called in on Friday, November 15, a day after the news broke that investigators had discovered the damning e-mails authored by former Salomon Smith Barney telecom analyst Jack Grubman.
The e-mails allege that Grubman upgraded shares of AT&T as a favor to his boss, Citigroup chief Sandy Weill. In exchange, Weill used his influence to get Grubman's twin daughters into the Y's very selective nursery school.
Citigroup also pledged a $1 million donation to the Y the summer after Grubman upgraded his position on AT&T.
Grubman has since declared that his e-mails were fictitious attempts to inflate his importance. Weill and the Y have strongly denied the donation involved a quid pro quo involving Grubman's daughters.
As a nonprofit relying on philanthropic donations, the Y was worried that a link to the Grubman e-mail saga might threaten its image, and so retained Sard.
The 92nd Street Y is one of New York City's premier nonprofit cultural institutions. Located in Manhattan's tony Upper East Side, the Y is a cultural gathering place for activities as diverse as lectures by Nobel laureates, art workshops for teenagers, and computer literacy classes for senior citizens.