Saturday, July 23, 2016

Ethics Board Fixes Speakers Election

Ethics Board Also Ignores Lobbyists Working to Elect Candidates to Help Them Make $$$ Off of City Contracts 
A gift for MelissaMark-Viverito: Ethics watchdogs let the City Council speaker off easy forconflicts of interest (NYDN Ed)  By all rights, were justice equal in New York government, Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito would be out of her job today. The city’s ethics regulations bar public employees from accepting gifts — but the Conflicts of Interest Board comes down hard, in fact, unforgivingly hard, only on the little guy or gal for even trivial rule violations. Consider 24-year veteran sanitation worker Lenworth Dixon, who accepted a $20 tip from a grateful homeowner for whom he had carted off yard waste. In 2014, the board forced Dixon to retire and fined him $1,500. Or consider 20-plus-year sanitation workers Robert Bracone and Rene Torres, who had each accepted a $5 tip. The board drove both men to retire and pay $2,000 fines. Now, consider Mark-Viverito. In 2013, she accepted freebie services from a lobbyist as she campaigned among her colleagues to be speaker. Still worse, the firm represented clients who would need the speaker’s backing for legislation. According to the conflicts board, the gifted services had a value of $3,796. Despite the fact that the amount was more than 700 times larger than a $5 tip, and despite the fact that Mark-Viverito had undermined the integrity of her office, the board imposed a fine of only $7,000 Which was $18,000 less than the top penalty. Which Mark-Viverito can pay out of her campaign funds, rather than out of the city salary she’ll continue to receive. Parks Department manager Cristina Badillo never got a break like that. The board last year fined her personally $1,000 for accepting a $15 gift of chocolate liqueur and an $8 box of Whitman’s chocolates. Still worse, the board ordered Mark-Viverito to pay $4,000 to the lobbying firm of Scott Levenson, who was her partner in crime. She will take that money, too, from a campaign account. Still worse, Levenson can take that $4,000 and pay his fine, in that exact amount. Still worse, Mark-Viverito admitted guilt only after waging a long battle against the board, running up legal bills of $123,313, with more to come. Again, she’ll

Another Slap of the Wrist for Lobbyists Advance Group This Time Illegally Working for Mark-Viverito Speakers Campaign 

An Interlocking-Directorate of Lobbyists That Controls the Council Speaker
Setting precedent, Conflict of Interest Board settles with Mark-Viverito   (CapitalNY) Lawyers for City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito have reached a settlement with the city’s Conflict of Interest Board following an investigation into free political consulting services that Mark-Viverito accepted during the race for speaker in 2013. As part of the settlement, the speaker has agreed to pay a $7,000 fine for accepting the services, a small fraction of the $25,000 statutory maximum she faced when the inquiry was first launched. The ethics board launched the non-criminal investigation in January of last year, alleging she acted improperly by accepting help from the Advance Group — a lobbying firm which has business dealings with the city. Elected officials are barred from accepting anything of value from registered lobbyists including a gift in the form of a service. The settlement decision was strengthened by the fact that the structure of Mark-Viverito’s undeclared campaign account is different because the race was not subject to regular campaign finance rules. Normally, elected officials are barred from using campaign money to run for another office, or to spend money from transition committees which typically only help pay for inauguration events. During the race, The Advance group helped Mark-Viverito prepare for the race, which included several community forums and debates as well as behind-the-scenes politicking with council members and county party leaders who helped collect votes in her favor. * Melissa Mark-Viverito Drops Advance Group for Speaker Bid(NYO) Ms. Mark-Viverito insisted today that this was not the case but out of an “abundance of caution,” the relationship would end. Melissa Mark-Viverito Drops Advance Group for Speaker Bid - Blogs(TU) * An operative with the controversial Advance Group, Jonathan Yedin, who has been working in Brooklyn Democratic Party politics for more than a decade and belongs to Mr. Seddio’s political club. Though Ms. Mark-Viverito eventually stopped taking free advice from the Advance Group, Mr. Yedin remained a crucial player in the brokering of the deal, sources said.  Inside Melissa Mark-Viverito’s Road to Victory(NYO) * Nailed! @MMViverito must pay $7K fine for accepting free help from lobbyists in bid for job (NYDN) In addition to the $7,000 fine, which Mark-Viverito can use campaign funds to pay, she’ll pay the Advance Group $3,796.44 for its work.

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