Monday, May 26, 2014

Forest City Ratner pays D'Amato's Park Strategies $40,000/quarter for federal lobbying (nearly $1.2M since 2006)

The transactional relationship between Brooklyn developer Bruce Ratner, a self-described liberal Democrat, and political operative Al D'Amato, the former Republican Senator, is more extensive than previously reported. Beyond the article below about D'Amato's federal lobbying on behalf of Ratner's Atlantic Yards project, also see coverage of D'Amato's city/state lobbying and a curious campaign contribution Forest City Ratner has paid D'Amato's Park Strategies more than $3 million for lobbying and consultation related to Atlantic Yards and the Nassau Coliseum.

Nice work if you can get it.

Since 2009, Brooklyn developer Forest City Ratner has paid $40,000 per quarter to its long-time federal lobbyist, Park Strategies, even though the firm, led by former Sen. Alfonse D'Amato, has reported lobbying on issues in only seven of the 21 nine quarters. Forest City has spent nearly $1.2 million on the firm for federal lobbying since 2006.

In 2011, Park Strategies reported lobbying activity each quarter. Its most recent focus has been the EB-5 immigrant investor program--a source of cheap capital raised by highly suspect means-while in the past the topics included eminent domain and potential federal support for Atlantic Yards.

That said, it's not unusual for D'Amato's firm to report no lobbying issue activity for its clients. As Newsday reported 2/17/14, "D'Amato said most of Park Strategies' income isn't from lobbying but rather 'strategic advice,' 'designing programs' and offering expert testimony."

I doubt the firm offered Forest City programs or testimony, but "strategic advice"--well, that could mean a lot of things.

The reports

Below, links to the federal disclosure reports, plus some annotation.

2014, $40,000/quarter
First quarter, no issues lobbied

2013, $40,000/quarter
First quarter, no issues lobbied
Second quarter, no issues lobbied
Third quarter, no issues lobbied
Fourth quarter, no issues lobbied

2012, $40,000/quarter
First quarter, no issues lobbied
Second quarter, EB-5 visa program
Third quarter, no issues lobbied
Fourth quarter, no issues lobbied

2011, $40,000/quarter
First quarter, Atlantic Yards
Second quarter, EB-5 visa program
Third quarter, EB-5 visa program; guidance regarding EB-5 certification of certain real estate development projects funded through EB-5 program
Fourth quarter, EB-5 visa program; guidance regarding EB-5 certification of certain real estate development projects funded through EB-5 program

2010, $40,000/quarter
First quarter, no issues lobbied
Second quarter, no issues lobbied
Third quarter, EB-5
Fourth quarter, no issues lobbied

2009, $40,000/quarter
First quarter, funding for real-estate linked transportation projects
Second quarter, no issues lobbied
Third quarter, no issues lobbied
Fourth quarter, no issues lobbied

2008, <$90,000/full year
First quarter, funding for real-estate linked transportation projects,
Second quarter, no issues lobbied
Third quarter, funding for real-estate linked transportation projects
Fourth quarter, stimulus spending, funding for real-estate linked transportation projects

2007, $160,000/full year
Full year, $160K, use of eminent domain , funding for real-estate linked transportation projects, real estate project infrastructure development

2006, $100,000/full year
Full year, eminent domain, property rights

Previous coverage

Note that the New York Observer reported an even larger two-year sum, in a 2/26/08 article:
Forest City Ratner paid former U.S. Senator Al D’Amato’s lobbying firm $400,000 in 2006 and 2007 to lobby federal legislators regarding eminent domain and other issues important to the developer of the $4 billion Atlantic Yards project in downtown Brooklyn.
...With no major eminent domain legislation pending in Congress—and over two years since Kelo—Mr. D’Amato’s lobbying targets aren’t quite clear. Park Strategies lists “funding of real estate development linked transportation projects; [and] real estate project infrastructure development,” as lobbying subjects, as well as eminent domain. Park Strategies did not respond to requests for comment.
Note that, as far as I know, the total was $260,000 for those two years. I don't know if the lobbying reports were later revised, or whether I missed a document.

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