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After leaving Forest City Ratner, Bender and Cantone rely on old ties for new clients: Prokhorov's Onexim, Viola's Virtu, and maybe even the Nets

Bruce Bender and Scott Cantone, Forest City Ratner's top government relations officials until they left earlier this year in the wake of the Ridge Hill corruption trial, have formed Bender Cantone Consulting, which relies in part on relationships begun while at Forest City Ratner.

The NYC Lobbyist Search web site (see screenshot at bottom) indicates five clients, including the Onexim Group, controlled by Brooklyn Nets majority owner Mikhail Prokhorov, which describes itself as "one of Russia’s largest private investment funds, with a focus on mining industry, innovative projects in energy and nanotechnology, real estate and other industries."

According to the web site, the consulting firm earned $5,000 from Onexim during July and August. For what isn't clear, but Prokhorov's foundation made a $1 million donation to the Brooklyn Academy of Music. Prokhorov held and event at BAM in the run-up to the September 28 opening of the Barclays Center.

Another Nets connection

Another client is Virtu Financial, an electronic trading firm, whose Chairman and CEO is Vincent Viola, former Chairman of the New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX) and a longtime minority owner of the Nets. The Brooklyn-born Viola was the connection that brought several investors to the Nets, including novelist Mary Higgins Clark.

According to the web site, the consulting firm earned $18,750 from Virtua from May through August.

Other clients

Other clients include the New York Yankees, the Association of Car Wash Owners, and the Albany government relations firm Cordo & Company. Only for the Yankees, among the five clients, is the subject lobbied disclosed: "regulation of ticket sales."

Lobbying fees aren't disclosed either, but presumably they're earning a good deal more than what's been reported so far.

What about the Nets?

Note that while Bender Cantone's web site indicates that the Brooklyn Nets are among the featured clients, the team is not listed on the lobbyist search site.

That may indicate that the Nets are not yet a formal client. Or it could be a reference to the lobbyists' past work, while at Forest City.

The firm's promise: "relationship that transcend political identity"

Bender and Cantone promise on their web site:
With 40 combined years of experience in public service and 20 years in the private sector, Bender Cantone Consulting offers clients comprehensive expertise and innovative approaches to solving problems. We are a proven and tested team that has successfully represented clients' interests in the community, in government and with the media.
As seasoned professionals representing our principals in Albany, City Hall and Washington D.C., we have developed long-term trusted relationships that transcend political identity and enables us to provide our clients the information and advice they need.
Indeed, one of the hallmarks of Forest City Ratner's work has been the company's influence on both sides of the legislative aisle. Of course strategic campaign contributions to both sides can't hurt, either.

Their record

Their website states:
Together, they have developed and implemented public affairs strategies for some of the City and State's most visible development projects: Atlantic Yards and Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York by Gehry at 8 Spruce Street in Lower Manhattan, The New York Times Building in Midtown, East River Plaza Mall in Upper Manhattan, and Ridge Hill Village in Westchester, among others.
And yes, they're taking some credit for the arena.
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