From an editorial yesterday in the New York Times, Lobbying for Gold in Albany:
Patricia Lynch, one of the most influential lobbyists in New York State, has agreed to pay a $500,000 fine and will be prohibited from doing any business with the state pension fund for five years. When one considers the sleazy way she maneuvered to get lucrative pension investments for her clients, that is only a slap on the wrist.(Emphasis added)
Ms. Lynch, who was once the top aide to Sheldon Silver, the Assembly speaker, did acknowledge that she tried to “curry favor” with Alan Hevesi, the former comptroller, and his office. (Mr. Hevesi was one of eight people who pleaded guilty in a pay-to-play scheme.) As part of her agreement with Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, she was not required to admit any wrongdoing.
We fear it is going to take a lot stronger medicine to change Albany’s relentlessly corrupt culture.
Albany’s lobbyists have far too much power to craft legislation or, more often, kill it. State lobbying codes are scandalously unfair to regular people who don’t have the $10,000 a month that is the going rate to hire Ms. Lynch and her well-connected colleagues.
Among the non-regular people who do have the scratch to hire Lynch are Walt Disney, General Motors, Vornado Realty Trust, the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership, and (ta da) Forest City Ratner, as shown in the state's Project Sunlight and the city lobbying database.
Actually, the Atlantic Yards Development Company paid Lynch $5000 a month in 2008, or $60,000 total. (Click on graphics to enlarge.)
The need for reform
The editorial closes:
To help her clients win contracts to invest some of the state’s $133 billion in pension funds, Ms. Lynch put together bundles of contributions for Mr. Hevesi’s election campaign. When one Hevesi aide asked for help finding a job for his girlfriend’s daughter, she complied, even providing the daughter with a $8,500 trip to Tokyo.Will "Status Cuomo," as dubbed by Rick Lazio (and echoed by No Land Grab's Eric McClure), "change it"?
This is the way Albany works, and Mr. Cuomo, who becomes governor in January, needs to change it.
He must push for tougher lobbying laws, a more strict ban on gifts and passage of an ethics reform package that will cover lawmakers, the state government and the lobbyists. Pay-to-play has to end.
Don't hold your breath. After all, Cuomo relies on contributions from many of Lynch's clients, including Bruce Ratner.
And, as the Village Voice reported, the lobbying firm with the most direct line to Cuomo is Dan Klores Communications, which works for Ratner.