Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Senate Democrats Have No Interest In Going After Corrupt Shadow Govt Lobbyists 675

90% Think NY is Corrupt But New Yorker's Acting Like Sheep and Accept Organize Crime Elected Officials 
Why corruption is so rampant in New York government (NYP) New Yorkers care about corruption in government. But not much. Which is why there’s so much of it. It was just six weeks or so ago that federal juries in Manhattan found two of the state’s three most powerful political figures guilty of theft and extortion. Monday, the upstate Siena College Research Institute reported that nearly 90 percent of New Yorkers believe the state is fundamentally corrupt — but only 18 percent think doing something about it should be a top priority in the just-convened 2016 legislative session. This, in a state that has seen 30 lawmakers removed from office via criminal conviction or resignation under fire in the past several years — and that soon will see former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and one-time Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos sentenced to lengthy prison terms * Corruption is so rampant in New York politics because, while New Yorkers care about corruption, they care more about issues like the $15 minimum wage or paid family leave, which is why Albany will not change,the Post’s Bob McManus writes:

Electing Leaders Who Do Nothing to Stop Corruption 
Gov. Cuomo stood around with his hands in his pockets for years as the two legislative leaders were filling their knapsacks with other people’s money — and then arguably attempted to ease the heat on the pair (and maybe on himself) by shutting down a special anti-corruption commission.  Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who’ll hop on fantasy-football bettors like a frog on a lily pad, has never shown the slightest interest in legislative corruption — perhaps because he came to his present office straight from the Legislature. The Joint Commission on Public Ethics was established in 2011 and is controlled by genteel hacks appointed by Cuomo, Silver and Skelos. It has never — not once — caught a pol with his hand in somebody else’s pocket.This should be astonishing, given US Attorney Preet Bharara’s record during the same period. But, given the commission’s appointing authorities, it’s not surprising at all.  And local district attorneys have only rarely been interested in official corruption. Who wants to make those kind of political waves?   More basically, who’s to doubt that Shelly Silver’s district would re-elect him in a New York minute — tomorrow?  The politicians understand this, of course. That’s why nothing fundamental ever changes: The pols aren’t the problem — the people are.  Sometimes, democracy is a real bitch.* A new Siena poll found voters overwhelmingly support a number of Cuomo’s priorities for 2016, but still hold mixed views about the governor himself.

Senate Dem Boss Stewart-Cousins Picks A Lobbyist As Her Chief of Staff
Senate Democrats Hire New Chief Of Staff (YNN) With the new legislative session comes a top hire for the Senate Democrats, who have brought on government relations specialist Suzy Ballantyne to become the conference’s new chief of staff. She fills the vacancy created early last year, when the conference’s top aide Jeff Pearlman departed to become chief of staff to Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul. Ballantyne since January 2015 has worked for the consulting firm and government relations shop Bolton-St. Johns, helping work on the effort to have the Zadroga Act be reauthorized. The measure provided $8.1 billion in health care funding for emergency workers during the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks as well as compensation.

Albany Bluewall of Silence: Lawmakers Have Not Pressured Hestie nor Flanagan to Pass Reforms 
Bob McManus: “(N)either Heastie nor Flanagan has said anything meaningful about reform. This is unsurprising, because neither has felt any pro-reform pressure from rank-and-file lawmakers — most of them soul-dead and virtually none possessing the skills needed to form an honest Legislature anyway.” * When it comes to outside income earned by state lawmakers, the main focus is usually on high profile jobs like attorneys and consultants, but there’s a lot of other professions, too.* New Session, New Call For Inclusion In Closed-Door Meetings (YNN)* DAY-ONE PUSH FOR ETHICS - POLITICO New York's: As the State Legislature gavels in for the year, Democrats in the State Senate are laying down a marker: don't forget ethics reforms. Leaders of the both the Assembly and Senate were ousted at the end of last year due to federal corruption charges, which were affirmed in a pair of convictions that have increased pressure on lawmakers to do something to improve public perception. Gov. Andrew Cuomo said ethics reforms will be at the "top" of his agenda in next week's State of the State presentation, and he told reporters in Rochester Tuesday that part of his plan will be to "remove the pensions of public employees who are convicted of a felony."  "Let's not bury our heads in the sand and act like nothing is wrong," Senate Democratic leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins is expected to say, according to prepared remarks. "Every year it seems that we face more and more scandal. And every year we pay lip service to reforming our government. Well let me tell you that is not good enough! Now is a time for a major re-haul of our outdated ethics laws."* Yesterday was Day One of the 2016 legislative session, and the Democratic and Republican leaders of the state Legislature laid out starkly different agendas for the 2016 session, signaling that the coming six months will be a tricky period during an election year.
Albany and City Hall Corruption

DSCC Gianaris  Wants to Use the Constitution to Protect Lobbyist As He Ignores the Illegal and Conflicting Actions of His Own Lobbyists Parkside
What are your thoughts on banning political consultants from being able to play this dual role of campaign operatives and lobbyists in Albany?”
Question Morgan Pehme:  The practice of political consulting firms electing lawmakers and then turning around and lobbying them is now totally commonplace in Albany. This relationship between lawmakers and their consultants strikes me as a recipe for influence peddling and ends up connecting lobbyists and legislators at the hip. 

Answer Michael Gianaris“It’s an interesting question.  We’ve debated this in the Senate over the last couple of years and, by the way, it’s an issue I think in the city and the City Council as well in recent years. When we looked at it on a theoretical basis some of the good government groups have opined to us that there are Constitutional issues with preventing anyone from lobbying their government. It’s enshrined in the First Amendment, I believe, that people should have the right to petition their government and lobby. And so there are some legal questions we have to overcome before we can impose a ban, so to speak. Now, could there be limitations? Sure, that’s something we can discuss. I think at the city level there’s limitations on how much lobbyists can donate, for example, to campaigns. There’s all sorts of ways we can try and ensure there’s no conflict or influence peddling that’s inappropriate. But we have to make sure that whatever we do is within Constitutional limitations and that’s, I think, where that issue does run into some problems. … There’s things like that should be easy to do. It would close some pretty big loopholes that exist in the law and I would absolutely support that.” To Hear the Gianaris Interview

Question Bill SamuelsDo you think that the state should expand the definition of lobbying to include this practice of so-called “door opening” by consultants?”

Answer Michael Gianaris: “There’s a whole issue of when someone actually registers as a lobbyist or not. We have a series of consultants that aren’t registering, so that’s another area we can tackle. I think there’s some efforts from some of the ethics commissions to deal with that already which is a long way of saying, Morgan, that I agree with you. We need to make sure that we limit the conflicts of interest that could arise in government. That’s obvious just by following the recent trials, if nothing else. But, whatever we do, and there’s multiple things we can do, we should just be careful to make sure it’s legal.”

Gianaris Is It Legal to Demand Senate Candidates to Hire Your DSCC Consultant Parkside? 
If Former Brooklyn Boss Norman Was Sent to Jail For Coercing Candidates to Pay Thousands of Dollars To Favored Campaign Consultant. Senator . . . Why is Gianaris Getting Away With Doing the Same Deal With Parkside

DSCC requirement to use Parkside for mailers reminiscent of Norman's requirement to use Lendler [UPDATED] (Progress Queens) Former Brooklyn Democratic Party chair Clarence Norman was indicted and later convicted for requiring judicial candidates to use party-favored political campaign vendors. Prosecutors said Mr. Norman had coerced two candidates for civil court judge to pay thousands of dollars to favored campaign consultants, or lose his organization’s support in the 2002 primary. In due course, Mr. Norman was found guilty in a jury trial of "coercion, grand larceny by extortion and attempted grand larceny by extortion" stemming from charges of having "coerced two candidates for civil court judge to pay thousands of dollars to favored campaign consultants, or lose his organization’s support in the 2002 primary," according to a 2007 report published by The New York Times.
The New York Democratic Senate Campaign Committee, or DSCC, headed by State SenatorMichael Gianaris (D-Queens), required that "DSCC-backed candidates must use Parkside to print their campaign mail, an arrangement some Democrats have long bristled at," according to a report published by inThe New York Observer.   Parkside as of the last filing pulled in about $3.6 million this year. Primarily their services include direct mail, television ads, Polling and cards or literature. Sources say that in many instances Parkside representatives made clear to the candidates that if they do not use their services, they will not be receiving DSCC money.  Sometimes that was made clear in the form of a threat, other times it was demonstrated through pulled support.  The case many Democrats point to is Justin Wagner who ran the last two cycles for the seat currently occupied by Republican Senator Greg Ball. Wagner wouldn’t sign on to Parkside, and as a result he got limited help from the DSCC. Even though that was an open seat and a potential pickup for the Democrats. Finally, there were charges that Parkside “acted in their own self interest rather than what is best for the Senate.” With DSCC Chairman State Senator Michael Gianaris of Queens acting as “an account manager for Parkside.” And if any Chairman was coming out of dramatic losses such as these, he or she “shouldn’t be in a job any longer.* The DSCC Parkside Connection(YNN) Last month the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee and its preferred consultant, The Parkside Group, took issue with a posting that candidates were leaned on to use Parkside in advance of the November elections.

NY1 Attacks Berlin Rosen for Not Registering As A Lobbyists 

But OK With Their Often Consultant Corner Guest Stavisky Registered As A Fake Address and Breaking the Residency Election Law 
NY1 Online: Consultants Talk Mayor's Decision to Not Yet Endorse Hillary Clinton (NY1) While lobbyist Evan Stavisky he was never asked how is a Queens District Leader while is wife is boss chairwomen of the Rockland Democratic Party From Nanuet Patch  Rockland Democrats gathered at Clarkstown Town Hall Thursday evening to elect Kristin Zebrowski-Stavisky their new chairwoman.  Stavisky, 40, is the sister of Assemblyman Kenneth Zebrowski, D-New City. And in case you haven't figured it out, she's also the wife of Evan Stavisky. So Rockland County Democratic Party Chair Kristen Stavisky lives in a big house in Rockland County & her District Leader husband Evan Stavisky in the 26th district and lives in a small apartment in Queens? It couldn't be that he needs to be a resident of Queens to be a District Leader there and continue his "Pay to Play" game of handing out Democratic Party Endorsements?  A Strategic Living Arrangement For Top Democratic Strategist(City and State)

Lobbyists Groups Parkside Spent $7.5 Million of Real Estate Developers Money and Failed to Elected A Council Speaker. . . Making Their Queens Boss Crowley Their Benefactor A Loser

But the biggest donors to council races were the city’s real estate titans, who raised nearly $7 million in a bid to influence the election of City Council members. Spending for the PAC was coordinated by the industry’s lobbying arm, the Real Estate Board of New York.  But after the elections, REBNY President Steven Spinola was quick to declare victory, asserting that 18 of the 22 candidates backed by his group had won their elections. But determining just who was doling out the big bucks proved challenging, since most of the contributions to the real estate PAC, dubbed Jobs for New York, came from murky corporate entities that are otherwise ineligible to donate directly to candidates in city elections.

 REBNY | Jobs For New York PAC - The Real Deal *  Lobbyist Has a Dual Role at City Hall - New York Times(2005) * True News: A Takeover Of Journalism by Lobbyist and Politicians * A Letter to Garcia: (Michael) Garcia U.S. Attorney | Room Eight * How the Media, Pols and DA's Protect Parkside and Ignore Injustice (True News) *  John Kennedy O'Hara convicted for illegal voting by Brooklyn DA Joe Hynes for running for office out of his girlfriend's residence. * A Strategic Living Arrangement For Top Democratic Strategist(City and State). * The Mortgage Documents of Evan Stavisky & Kristen Stavisky For Their Home In Rockland County(Queens Politics) *  A Letter to Garcia: (Michael) Garcia U.S. Attorney O'Hara and Stavisky Voting Residence Injustice While the Media looks the other way(True News) * Miller who became so close to Parkside after it helped him win his speaker post asked one of Parkside partners to help him hire a chief of staff.* Lobbyists' Role in Council Slush Fund Scandal Probed (City Sun 2008) 
Jobs4NY Parkside Helped Elected to the New Council
Margaret S Chin (1), ), Inez E Dickens (9), Andrew Cohen (11), Andrew  King (12), Fernando  Cabrera (14), Vanessa L Gibson (16), Paul A Vallone (19), Costa G Constantinides (22), Costa G Constantinides (22), Rory Lancman (24), Laurie Cumbo (35), Ritchie Torres (36), Rafael L Espinal, Jr. (37), Alan Maisel (46), Mark Treyger (47), John Mancuso (50)

NY1 Political Director Finally Goes After A Lobbyist's Conflict of Interests 
Meanwhile, the governor created a potential ethical headache for himself when he announced the promotion of his communications director, Melissa DeRosa, to become his chief of staff. According to Cuomo’s press release, DeRosa’s “portfolio will continue to include communications, and will add legislative affairs, politics, labor, and the administration's strategic approach to enacting policy.” Not mentioned in the press release is the fact that DeRosa’s father, Giorgio, is the chief lobbyist for the firm of Bolton-St. John. According to Bolton’s website: “As a lobbyist, Giorgio has worked on several successful procurement projects, including the New York State Prescription Drug Program, valued at $1 billion per year, and the New York State Mental Health Contract, valued at $120 million per year. He spearheaded efforts leading to the deregulation of the cellular telephone industry, and secured $20 million for a soccer stadium in RochesterNew York, and for a project with the New York Botanical Gardens.” So where will Melissa DeRosa sit at meetings if any of these topics come up in policy discussions? Rich Azzopardi, the governor’s spokesman, says: “Melissa has always been refused from anything involving Bolton St. Johns and will continue to do so.” So we’re supposed to trust the governor to keep DeRosa out of certain negotiations and ignore that massive amount of money that Glenwood threw his way. But if Cuomo wants to repair the public trust that was so badly damaged by the leaders of the legislature, he could try to lead by example.* Bob Hardt writes for NY1 that with Giorgio DeRosa, the father of Cuomo’s new chief of staff, Melissa DeRosa, being the chief lobbyist at Bolton-St. John and involved in many high-profile issues in Albany, it will be difficult to trust Melissa DeRosa to recuse herself when needed:

NY1 Repeats the NYT Story On Glenwood's and Also leaves Out Bharara and the Names of Lobbyist, Why?
An in depth look at the company at the heart of the Silver& Skelos corruption trials (NY1)Some observers lament the Silver and Skelos convictions as just the end to another chapter in pay-to-play culture. Although, others see a particular irony with Glenwood. As it dangles luxury in Manhattan, the company has come to epitomize the underbelly of Albany politics.  NY1 Left Out the Three Lobbyists Employed by Glenwood 1. NY1 Wiseguy Al D'Amato, Richard Runes and Brian Meara * No one at Glenwood was criminally charged. Two people involved in the company testified under non-prosecution agreements.* Reformer: Treat Glenwood Like A ‘Pariah’ (YNN)

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