Sunday, May 10, 2015

Drilling down on the connections between the Black Institute, Lewis's organization, and real estate bigfoot Glenwood

In March 2014, after Chris Bragg (then of Crain's New York Business) broke the news, I cited the curious situation in which Bertha Lewis, head of the Black Institute, was lobbying against an Upper East Side waste transfer station supported by the New York City Environmental Justice Alliance.

Last year, I noted that Lewis was "being paid by a coalition apparently funded by real estate interests."

Bragg described how the group Pledge 2 Protect was funded significantly by the Gracie Point Community Council, whose "board includes Charles Dorego, senior vice president of Glenwood Management, a major real estate developer that owns a number of buildings facing Asphalt Green, the recreational area next to the transfer-station site." 

Bragg reported that Dorego, who didn't answer questions, was a major funder of the group.

Drilling down on Glenwood

Now Dorego and Glenwood are in hot water, as Bragg expanded on the issue yesterday in the Times-Union of Albany, Glenwood's stealth state clout: Real estate giant uses loopholes in the law to keep its political donations anonymous (subscriber-only):
This year, the typically low-profile real estate giant has found itself playing a supporting role in two federal corruption complaints lodged against the state's top legislative leaders: former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, a Democrat, and Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, a Republican.
Records indicate the Long Island-based firm's largess does not end with its conventionally disclosed giving: Glenwood has connections to several lesser-known political efforts in which loopholes have provided more avenues for anonymity. Good-government groups see a pattern in which money passes from its original source though a third party in a way that obscures the identities of the original donors when the funding is publicly disclosed.
And it's apparently legal, despite a 2011 ethics reform law aimed "to force groups like Pledge 2 Protect — issue-oriented nonprofits with lobbying operations — to disclose their donors." The secret is putting the money into a law firm that then funds Pledge 2 Protect. 

So that further confirms that the scandal-tinged Glenwood is supporting the Black Institute's advocacy.

Barrett on Senate Republicans

Also see Wayne Barrett's piece in today's New York Daily News, Dean Skelos and a Senate closet full of skeletons: The corrupt and insular world of New York’s top Republicans:
[Rich] Funke is so new to the Senate he may not have realized how many of his own Republican colleagues had bought homes in Florida, especially in the 45-mile southwest corridor between Fort Myers and Naples, where they reportedly hang out in gated golf-course communities and do Senate business. Lobbyists have figured it out and bought homes there as well, including the three alluded to in the complaint against Skelos.
It's just another crack of light into the Senate silo. The leaders at the top of the Senate organizational chart — Skelos, deputy majority leader Tom Libous, Finance chair John DeFrancisco, Majority Whip Michael Nozzolio, Banking Chair Hugh Farley and Corporations, Authorities and Commission chair Michael Ranzenhofer — have Florida homes. So does George Maziarz, the energy and telecommunications chair who did not seek re-election in 2014.

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