Friday, September 19, 2014

Do the right thing

Do the right thing

I wrote an entire blog this morning about ethics, the NFL, JJOKE, LT, Cuomo, Preet and the Moreland fiasco this bureaucrat investigating the Tappanzee financing and the phrase "Do the right thing".

It was biting, insightful, provocative and designed to rile up a whole bunch of folks.

I proofed it and thought about what effect it might have on those written about (actually that's bs I thought about the effect it might have on me) and then I hit delete.

Why?  because I decided to take my own advice from the deleted blog and trust my gut make a decision and do the right thing when it comes to ethics.

And right now the right thing is to let others figure it out for themselves.

My clients pay me a lot of $$$$ for ethics advice why should I give it away for free?

I guess what I am saying as far as the blog is concerned is goodbye.

To those that have enjoyed reading it I'm glad it amused you.

To those that may have learned something from it I'm glad to have been of assistance.

To those in the media that got useful information from the blog you still have my number just call and ask what I've heard.

To those who may piss me off in the future . . .

I can always tweet that the blog is back

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

What's the big secret?

A couple of things happened yesterday that got me to thinking about what is wrong with JJOKE and ethics in general in NY

The two things were a phone call I made to JJOKE to speak to LT and an article in Crain's about Jennifer Cunningham and being a registered lobbyist.

First full disclosure.  I call JJOKE to speak with LT all the time sometimes its business, sometimes its just to chat and sometimes it is to offer advice solicited or unsolicited.  I've also spoken to Jennifer, she is not a client (but she should be after this article) but she has sent me clients and I've tried to be helpful to her when I can and I've respected and liked her for quite some time.

Let's start with Jennifer and the article and specifically the implied allegation that she should be registered as a lobbyist.  This is not a difficult question.  The definition is clear (at least to me) and when you apply the definition to a specific set of facts you can render an opinion about whether the party involved should register.  I do it all the time and it has provided me with a very good living, both when I was the head of the Lobby Commission and since 2007 as a consultant in private practice (granted the consulting gig pays much much better).  In this case based on the facts in the article Ms. Cunningham was not lobbying and was not required to register.   A simple answer to a simple question.  As I said I do it all the time.  If the media calls with those types of questions I answer, for free.  If a client calls I answer for pay.  If a prospective client calls I answer for free and hope to get paid down the road (and you ex-Cuomo types know who you are) BUT I ANSWER THE QUESTION.  

Yet when John Milgram the Public Information Officer at JJOKE who makes over $100k a year was asked he said  "A spokesman for the state's ethics watchdog agency, the Joint Commission on Public Ethics, declined to comment on any specific situations."  Why?   Why won't JJOKE and Milgram answer a simple question?    Thats what we pay you for.   Is it possible that no one at JJOKE has the technical knowledge to answer these questions?  As much as I criticize them even I believe someone must be able to answer  I know LT is knowledgable enough to answer so why don't they?

Which brings me to the phone call I made to JJOKE yesterday.  It was a routine call to LT to see how her weekend had been and continue a discussion of a personal nature we had begun the previous week (she asked for my advice on a private matter).  When the receptionist transfered me to LT the called ended up in the investigation unit  Here is a transcript as I recall it

"Investigation" (in a very serious voice)

Me "LT please"

Them "LT? do you mean the executive director?" (in a very aggressive tone)

Me "no I mean LT"

Them "Who is this? and how did you get our number?" (agressive and demanding)

Me "You are the investigator you figure it out" (in a sarcastic voice)

Them "Who is this?" (angry voice like a pissed off cop)

Me "who is this?" (mocking voice)

Them "you called me who are you?" (really agressive)

Me "no I called LT and Lori transferred me to you but if you tell me your name I'll tell you mine" (more sarcasm)

Them "Investigator Jack something or other Irish name"

Me "It's Dave Grandeau why don't you relax and stop being so agressive you sound like a hardon Irish cop"

Them "(silence)"

I kept torturing Jack for a while before I told him he owed me an apology for his tone and attitude, but it dawned on me this morning Milgram refusing to answer Crain's and Jack giving me the cop third degree are caused by the same thing.

JJOKE and most ethics agencies are afraid to commit to anything until they have more knowledge than you do.  It's a control thing and it is fatal in an ethics regulatory role.  Control works in politics it doesn't work in ethics.  Example 1 Cuomo and the Moreland Commission   don't worry about control if you tell the truth and behave appropriately you don't have to worry about control.  Letting the chips fall where they may will protect you in the long run.

Now why does Milgram make over $100k?  simple question I'm sure there is a simple answer.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

the folks at JJOKE and MOREJOKE are like the johns in a whorehouse

Or maybe a better analogy would be they are like a bunch of District Attorneys visiting an illegal casino.

Once they throw the dice we can't trust them to prosecute the owners of the joint.

And that is what happens all too often with the appointed members of ethics agencies or Moreland commissions or blue ribbon panels set up to investigate this or that.

They come to the jobs with sterling reputations and at least some connection to the politicians that appoint them (how else could they be appointed).

And then very very few have the sack to tell the other heavyweight genius appointees that what is going on is wrong and before you know it they have taken the free drinks and comped buffet at the casino (a metaphor for all the Casey Seiler types out there) and its too late to stand up and say that what is going on in there own commission is wrong.  No whistleblowers at this level.  And we end up with JJOKE and MOREJOKE.

Here is a fundamental question.  If you believe the NY Times reporting about Cuomo interference with Moreland (and its the Times so you have to believe) what was David Soares and Kathleen Rice and the other dozen or so District Attorneys doing?  Shooting ethics craps and gorging on the free buffet of complimentary press releases.  What was AG Eric "shakedown"  Schneiderman doing? my guess sitting in the rafters taping everyone else shooting ethics craps and gorging on the free buffet of complimentary press releases and wondering how to get his name in the press releases.


And thats why ethics in Albany will remain broken.  Ethics enforcement is based on trust that those appointed to oversee it will "do the right thing"  And in Albany that means go along and get along

Trust these clowns?  Hell the dice are probably loaded in their craps game.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

That was quick

As I wrote yesterday JJOKE's settlement with David Ellenhorn and the new Ellenhorn/Boies rules for jet travel gifts seemed awfully fishy to me.   So I FOILed "any and all documents,records, depositions and relevant and requested information as set forth in the substantial basis investigation report".  Lo and behold today I got a response.  In under 24 hours I got a response . . . that is amazing.  I have Foils that are years old that they ignore.   A response in under 24 hours?  Something is going on and the response speaks volumes about how crooked this inquiry, investigation and settlement were.  The response?   "There are no publicly available records at this time conforming to your request" 

Of course there aren't.     Either they don't exist because no real inquiry was made.  As I have heard and feared Boies and Ellenhorn thru Harlan Levy got to the Cuomo Commissioners and did their best Larry Schwartz impersonation or the records exist but JJOKE will not release them because they prove the allegation above.  Either way a damning indictment of JJOKE's lack of transparency, independence and honesty.

And please don't tell me that you can not release these records because you have before.  Remember Vito Lopez?  When JJOKE wants or Cuomo tells them to the entire investigation file is made available or at least the portions they want you to see  (see

JCOPE -controlled, secretive and dishonest    and that is the best NY state has for ethics enforcement.

You don't need bleach, you don't need new laws, you don't need politicians or goo goos mouthing the words reform 


I contacted LT for her thoughts on the FOIL request   I will post it here when she calls me back

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Transparency and Independance

Anytime you see or hear a politician using the phrases transparency and/or independence in the context of ethics you can be sure that they are full of shit.

Governor Cuomo and his lap dogs on the Moreland Commission are no exception.

The more Cuomo said the Moreland Commission was independent the more positive I became that he completely controlled it.

Cuomo claimed that shutting Moreland down was worth it because we got an independent enforcement counsel at the Board of Elections.  Of course that independent enforcement counsel was hand picked by Cuomo from Cuomo's staff but by god she is independent.

I have an easy test to see how independent she is . . . why doesn't she explain why the gov can use his campaign cash to buy hockey playoff tickets for his daughter and girlfriend in a private box.  In a stretch I can understand using your campaign account to but tickets for the gov and some donors to attend the game but how does having his girlfriend and daughter in attendance relate to the campaign?

And this would be a good example of the independent enforcement counsel practicing transparency by telling us all her thought process for this use of campaign funds.

Yup transparency the other term that guarantees whatever comes next is pure bullshit.

Here's another idea for the gov   if you want to prove Moreland and its staff and commissioners were independent why don't you be transparent and summon them all to Albany or New York City for a press conference where you can insist they answer questions related to what happened on the Moreland Commission.  They can all bring their lawyers who in unison can claim that while Moreland was the most independent and transparent body in New York's history they can not answer any questions while a federal investigation is pending.

Right . . . independent and transparent

And now with the gov's dad jumping in to defend junior we can add honest to the lexicon of ethics horseshit.

Enough already!!!!   politicians are a lot of things some of them even admirable but independent, transparent and honest when it comes to ethics are not even in the area code.

Every single commissioner and staff member of the Moreland Commission should be forced to testify under oath about what they knew, when they knew it and what they did about the independent, transparent and honest advice they received fron the governor's office.

And while I'm on the subject of independent, transparent and honest work by ethics agencies I have to go back to JJOKE, JDOPE JCOPE's work on the Boies/Ellenhorn rewriting of the gift ban that resulted in the Ellenhorn settlement agreement announced last week.

I've FOILed the investigation file to see what actual investigation took place.  I'm hearing disturbing rumors that very little to none actually took place.  No sworn testimony, no independent verification of facts relied upon in the settlement agreement and no independent, transparent and honest decisions related to the case.

In fact I hear that LT and the staff at JJOKE felt this was a serious case deserving of a serious fine but commissioners controlled by the governor would not allow it and the best LT could get was the settlement agreement that was announced last week and even that agreement was ghost written by David Boies and David Ellenhorn to cover up their alleged violations of the Public Officers Law.

A careful independent, transparent and honest reading of the agreement is very telling.

For example it lists Ellenhorn's long history of work as an attorney but makes no mention of what happened to the previous private firm that bore his name.   Could the troubling SEC allegations and that firms subsequent demise be the reason?  No mention of Ellenhorns failure to timely file his disclosure reports, no mention of any outside employment by Ellenhorn unreported on those tardy disclosure reports.  Trust me this wasn't Ellenhorn's first ethical rodeo but we are supposed to believe the mere admission of a violation of travel rules was sufficient punishment.

No mention in the report that Ellenhorn attended a deposition of Warren Buffet without disclosing his financial interest in Buffet's company Berkshire Hathaway and no mention that said interest was only included in amended reports after a complaint about Ellenhorn was made.

The report does mention that the travel was first raised by different counsel than Mr. Boies four years later.   Let me be independent, transparent and honest I was that counsel and the commission raised the incident with me after it was widely reported in the media.  Why make it seem in the report like it was an afterthought 4 years later?  Ellenhorn wasn't going to report it and neither was Boies because they knew what they did was wrong, very wrong.

Why did the commission limit it's inquiry into the incident as a violation of travel regulations when it was a clear violation of the Public Officers Law?

Why does it matter that Ellenhorn claims he did not know the rules for accepting free travel?

Is JJOKE going to allow the I didn't know the law defense for others in the future?

And I won't bore the readers again with how bogus the Elenhorn didn't fiancially benefit and it didn't cost Boies additional money excuse that the report now incorporates as a JJOKE rule for gifts.  By the way almost identical language Boies used when first questioned by the media.

Speaking of which why no mention that Boies lied to the media when he said he offered the free jet ride because Ellenhorn missed his flight?   Now it is because Ellenhorm would have had a long delay.   Another lie since there were flights available from Omaha to New York all afternoon, a fact JJOKE knew because I gave them the flight schedules.

And what about the ticket Ellenhorn didn't use.  Never returned to the state even though it was refundable.  The report says Ellenhorn didn't know because someone else made his travel arrangements.  Who made those arrangements and did you take that persons testimony to verify.

Speaking of verify who was Ellenhorn's supervisor at the time?  And what did he know and when did he know it?

These are important questions because now governor Andrew Cuomo was AG when Ellenhorn and Boies pulled this little travel stunt.  And you know the governors history of independent, transparent and honest management.

And absolutely no mention of the free limo ride Ellenhorn got from Westchester to NYC after the flight.

Independent, transparent and honest   don't make me laugh

Two things I can guarantee.

One - I won't stop until I find out what really happened inside JJOKE that caused certain commissioners to overrule LT and the staff and,

Two - David Boies needs to be held accountable for what happened and I intend to do just that (by the way what do you think the odds are that Harlan Levy leaves the AG and goes back to work as David Boies partner in the future?)

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

David Boies and David Ellenhorn rewrite the gift rules

There is a story in the NY Daily News by Ken Lovett that says JJOKE has determined that David Ellenhorn violated New York State travel rules when he took a private jet ride from superlawyer David Boies.  BUT JJOKE is not going to punish Ellenhorn because "Ellenhorn . . . did not profit financially. It also says having Ellenhorn aboard did not cost Boies more money.
And Boies doesnt get punished at all for providing this trip to opposing counsel. 

Back in May I blogged about this trip and analyzed the law surrounding Boies and his largesse, you can read it here

Obviously I was wrong on the application of the law.  After this case I think its fair to say JJOKE is applying a new rule when it comes to offering bribes oops illegal gifts. 

Now as long as the recepient "did not profit financially" and having the recepient in attendance did not cost the giver  "more money"  its not a violation.

WOW that is a very liberal oops progressive interpretation.

Using that rule lets see how the following bribes oops gifts oops transactions would be handled.

The governor is invited to spend the weekend at a lobbyists summer home in the Hamptons and catches a ride from the city on the lobbyists helicopter with the lobbyist.  A lobbyist with say a casino proposal before the state.  Under JJOKE's new Boies rule there is no problem with this bribe oops gift oops transaction.  The governor did not profit financially and the helicopter was flying with or without him and the summer home was going to be in the Hamptons with or without the gov and its not like there is a per night cost for guests to use it.


The speaker is invited to watch a rangers game from the corporate box of a major corporation with business before the state.  Under JJOKE's new Boies rule there is no problem with this bribe oops gift oops transaction. The speaker did not profit financially and the rangers were playing with or without him watching and the private box was going to be used with or without the speaker being there and its not like there is a per person per game cost for guests to use it.


The majority leader is invited to play a round of golf on a private course owned by a corporate titan with business before the state.  And the leader catches a ride to the course with the titan in his limo.  Under JJOKE's new Boies rule there is no problem with this bribe oops gift oops transaction. The leader did not profit financially and the limo was going to the course with or without him and the golf course was going to be playable with or without the leader and its not like there is a per round cost for guests to use it since no one but the titan has access to it.

Now those are hypotheticals lets apply this new rule to actual cases from the past.

Governor gets tickets from the Yankees to see a Yankee playoff game.  The gov did not profit financially and the seats did not cost the Yankees more money they already owned them.  If I was Governor clueless I'd demand a do over on that one.   OOPS

How about the speaker getting that cool suite in Vegas from Caesars?  The speaker did not profit financially, in fact if he gambled and lost he would be in the opposite situation.  And it did not cost Caesar's any more money to let him use the suite it was already there.  My apologies to Shelly had I known of this rule I never would have put you thru the trouble.   OOPS

How about Roger Green taking that free limo to Albany from correctional services?  Roger did not profit financially and the limo did not cost Correctional Services more money they were already traveling to Albany.  My apologies to Roger had I known of this rule I never would have put you thru the trouble and caused your resignation.   OOPS

I think the point is clear JJOKE once again has proven that they are inept or corrupt or both.

In this case I think two factors were at work.

One  - Democrats protecting Democrats.  Boies is a major democratic party supporter.  Schneiderman's office is full of democratic apparatchiks.  Including Boies former partner Harlan Levy.  JJOKE's chairman Dan Horwitz allegedly has ties to those same people.  OOPS

Two - Smart NYC lawyers protecting smart NYC lawyers.  The tribe takes care of it's own.  This logic of "it didn't cost Boies extra and Ellenhorn didn't profit financially" sounds exactly like a smart NYC lawyer justifying doing something that is clearly unethical.

One last point on Boies Ellenhorn  how does JJOKE explain the fact that Ellenhorn got a free limo ride to the city and he was the only one in the limo?

Shame on you JCOPE commissioners and staff you are no better than Nixon's plumbers that claimed they were just following orders.

There is no ethical concience left in Albany.  And no shame in Boies or Ellenhorn at all.

And if you think I'm overracting read the excellent story in the New York Times about Cuomo and his Moreland Commission.   The only way to stop this is to prosecute the commissioners and staff at Moreland and JCOPE and Legislative ethics that pervert the offices they hold.

Monday, July 21, 2014

The JDOPEs are at it again

For those that don't remember last January the JDOPEs from JJOKE denied applications for exemptions from groups that did not want to disclose the source of their funding.  At that time I blogged how stupid the JJOKE commissioners were and that I could not wait to see the dissents and commission opinion explaining why the exemptions were denied.  I also predicted NYCLU would kick JJOKE's ass if they brought an Article 78 claiming JJOKE was arbitrary and capricious.

Turns out it was even easier than that.  A hearing officer hearing the appeal by the groups that were denied ruled that JJOKE . . . JDOPE  . . . JCOPE was clearly in error in denying the applications and that was based only on the record because JJOKE didn't bother to submit any additional information, no opinion other than the "we do what we want pronouncement" no written dissents nothing.   Your tax dollars at work.

The hearing officers decision was the equivalent of a bitch slap to Horwitz and the rest of the legal geniuses that engineered this fiasco.  Smart NY lawyers, the smartest guys in the room  DOPES one and all.

And you have to love Milgram's comment once they found him and the 2nd floor told him to comment.  He said this is the first time that JCOPE has been overturned.   WOW hey Milgram you asshole it's also the first time anyone appealed one of your decisions.   But I've got a hunch it won't be the last.

Do you think that anyone at tomorrows meeting will discuss this public beatdown?   My guess is all the smart NYC lawyers just act like it never happened.

I'd love to see and hear Horwitz Weismann Levine Hormozi etc justify this stunning proof of their lack of legal acumen.

Hope springs eternal when it comes to JJOKE