Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Statute of Limitations on stupidity

Pei Pei Cheng-de Castro has been busy commencing new investigations at JJOKE.  Lots of 15 day letters are flying around the state.  And normally I would congratulate Seth "Igottagetoutofhere" Agata on getting some value for the $127146 we pay Pei Pei (nice alliteration don't you think?) except for the fact that several of these letters have come to my attention and they don't make sense.  Neither legally nor factually.  Before I discuss the legal and factual failings lets provide a little background on Pei Pei.

Pei Pei has received over $20000 in raises since she started, which would make you think she is really good at what she does for JJOKE.  Except as the Director of Investigations and Enforcement for the last couple of years what has she done?  No really that's a question what has she done?  JJOKE is not known as a real go getter unless the second floor tells them too.  Did Pei Pei catch Silver? catch Skelos? catch Sampson? catch Malcom Smith? catch Stevenson?, catch Bruno? catch Semenario? catch Huntly?  did she look into Cuomo's book deal? look into Percoco? Howe? Kalyeros (oops that may be too soon I'll wait) look into Castro? how about Leibell? Boyland? Gordon? Hoyt? Kellner? Kruger? Spitzer?  I could go on and on but if Pei Pei can't catch the fish in Albany ethics pond while they are practically impalling themselves on Preet's hook why did she get hired by JJOKE?

Is it because her husband once worked for JJOKE Chairman Dan Horwitz?  If so did Chairman Dan violate the Public Officers Law when he used his position to benefit his law firm by employing an employees spouse?  But I digress back to Pei Pei's letters.

I had the opportunity to ask Pei Pei what she thought the statute of limitations was under the Lobby Act.  She couldn't answer the question.  Yea she's worth $127146 good lift on this one Dan.  So I asked Seth.  His answer?  That's an interesting question, you should look at section 13(c) of Executive Law section 94.

Now why would I do that?  That section only applies to those that leave state service or cease lobbying during an investigation.  It has nothing to do with a statute of limitations and I told Seth as much.  His response?  You make an interesting point.

Fuck me, another JJOKE lawyer that spends so much time looking up his own ass he can't see the other assholes working for him.

So with that thought in mind I am sending JJOKE an opinion request to articulate what the statute of limitations is for a violation of the Lobby Act.

My greatest fear? that this collections of super assholes  oops lawyers thinks there is no statute of limitations for Lobby Act violations in which case Wilson Elser better worry that it's hiring of Ken Bruno was an illegal gift 10 years ago or Revlon should worry that it's hiring of Governor Pataki's wife was an illegal gift 20 years ago.  In fact the hiring of any public officials spouse or child by a lobbyist or client may have been an illegal gift no matter when it happened under Pei Pei's novel theory of imputed gifts to public officials.  Food for thought.  And another chance for Pei Pei to prove she is more than the latest act of do as I say not as I do by the agency that brought us Shari Calnero fired by Chairman Hormozi but rehired after her Uncle Vinnie DeIorio became a commissioner of JJOKE.  And trust me she isn't the only one that benefitted from JJOKE friends and family plan. 

Seth Agata you need to sack up and run your agency or resign and go collect your pension.

Let me know when you want to grab lunch or coffee.  I can probably find a lobbying firm that would love to hire your wife or grown child, I'm not sure I can find anyone who would want to hire Pei Pei but that's Chairman Dan's job anyway.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

How long before Agata leaves?

It's been about 6 weeks since Seth "Igottagetoutofhere" Agata was named the head of JJOKE, after another national search and extensive interview process (one that I could not even make the cut for a preliminary interview - I wonder why?).  Now I wonder during that interview process did anyone at JJOKE consider that because of Agata's prior service as counsel to Governor Cuomo he would be in a difficult position as the head of the ethics agency charged with enforcing the ethics laws against the Governor and his staff?

I'm sure the gubernatorial appointees saw it as a plus.  Who better to protect them than one of their own.  Much like John Gotti would have picked Sammy Gravano to be the head of the organized crime task force.  But now Agata has to deal with a world where people are willing to ask the hard questions.  Preet is always lurking around Albany politics and as a result the John Gotti's of the Albany political world don't scare the rank and file like they used to.  As a result Sammy Gravano might protect John from the organized crime task force but can't help when bigger predators show up to hunt.

And in fact when those shark fins break the surface all the scavenger fish also show up to pick at the ravaged remains.

A quick explanation for those not quick enough to understand the analogies at play.  Cuomo is Gotti, Agata is Gravano, JJOKE is the organized crime task force and the media (specifically Casey "cut and paste" Seiler is the scavenger fish.   And before anyone says I am being Trump like in picking on Italians my wife is Sicilian, Agata is Jewish and if anything scavenger fish should be insulted by the comparison to Casey.

Having cleared that up think about this.  JJOKE is being criticized by Casey for some mythical policy that allowed Joe Percocco (continuing the analogy - Fredo from the godfather movie, a likeable idiot that damages the godfather thru avarice and stupidity.  As an aside Percoco should avoid fishing in small boats) not to file a 2013 financial disclosure report.  JJOKE's explanations ring false and Agata and Walt McClueless sound like operatives for the second floor.  All JJOKE should have done was apologize for not getting Percoco to file the 2013 report and then force Percoco to file or face stiff penalties after a public hearing (the equivalent of being sent to Vegas to work for Moe Green).  But noooo they just say it couldn't happen now. 

Here's the problem.  Since Agata has been publicly quoted on the issue we know he is involved in it.  BUT how can that be?  He was Cuomo's counsel when this all happened.  Shouldn't he recuse himself?  Doesn't he have a major conflict of interest?  I blogged before that Agata should investigate himself for his role in Cuomo's book deal.  Now I think Blair Horner and Dick Dadey should demand that JJOKE and it's commissioners be investigated for Agata's actions regarding Percoco, Howe and Howe's buddy that is a registered lobbyist for Whiteman, Osterman and Hanna unless JJOKE scrubbed his name already.

Seth, you have a major problem, you are conflicted as a result of your prior position, you have been and you always will be.  It should have been obvious to those that placed you in the job. 

My suggestion is if you want to stay (and I don't know why you would if you are just going to keep doing what those that came before have done) you need to publicly explain your thoughts on your conflicts.  Remember even Sammy had to do the right thing eventually.

Monday, June 6, 2016

The Times Union wakes up

The Times Union has an editorial about JJOKE

It's titled "new concerns about JCOPE" but that is misleading.  These are not "new" concerns to any knowledgeable observer of JJOKE.  That the Times Union editorial board thinks they are "new" concerns goes a long way to explaining why JJOKE can do what it does when it comes to secrecy.  The media just doesn't care enough to spotlight JJOKE and it's corruption and keep that spotlight on.

And the Times Union can not act surprised about JJOKE's actions, I've been blogging on that very subject for years.  And I know they read the blog because Casey "cut and paste" Seilor is my personal spellchecking bitch and Chris Bragg calls me all the time when JJOKE and Walt McClueless won't answer his questions.

Give JJOKE credit they have lowered the bar so far that nobody cares.

JJOKE's new executive director Seth "Igottagetoutofhere" Agata read that editorial and immediately called a meeting of all the lawyers at JJOKE to figure out what there response should be.

As we have discussed Seth YOU ARE THE ANSWER but only if you want to be.

Why don't you think out of the box and hold a press conference today.  Call it the state of ethics.  Describe all the good things that you are doing and answer the media's questions.

Don't worry the questions will be softballs and no one will remember or report your answers but at least it will stop the Times Union from writing it's next editorial that structural changes at JJOKE will result in "ethics reforms"

Friday, June 3, 2016

Agata and McClure are sounding an awful lot like Henry Lee Lucas

That is they sound like a serial confessor.

Chris Bragg of the Times Union has written several stories about Todd Howe's name being scrubbed from the JCOPE website.  Initially overpaid and under talented JJOKE PR flack Walt McClueless was quoted as saying that it is impossible to retroactively scrub a name from JJOKE filings and that he would not comment on if JJOKE staffers could do the scrubbing.  When combined with Bragg's assertion that Howe's name was on filings and then wasn't it made it look like JJOKE staff was complicit or caused Howe's name to be scrubbed from the filings.  Having my own experience with JJOKE staffers unilaterally changing public filings I certainly could believe it was possible BUT

I happened to have seen The Howe name on reports publicly available on the JJOKE website that showed the powerhouse (but not technically proficient at compliance) lobbying firm of Whiteman, Osterman and Hannah had filed additional lobbyist termination reports for Howe on May 5.  So I knew that Bragg just didn't know where to look, so I told him.  And I explained that the public registration he is able to view is only the most recent amendment and that it is done by the online filing system automatically with no JJOKE involvement (a weakness in the system well known to anyone that actually has used the system - which explains why Walt McClueless tried to confess to an ethical violation JJOKE did not commit  BUT

Bragg is positive that Howe's name was on bimonthly reports for the January/February period for Whiteman client Crouse Hospital but no longer are.  HMMMMM  If that is true there is only one way that can happen.  Whiteman Osterman and Hannah would have had to file an amendment to their bimonthly reports for the January/February period for Whiteman client Crouse Hospital removing Todd Howe as an additional lobbyist for that time period.  That is an affirmative act it does not happen as a result of a computer glitch or system weakness like the registration forms.  AND it has to be approved by JJOKE staff.  That approval routinely takes weeks and or months as I have complained about before in this blog.  The only way it gets done this quickly is thru active intervention by JJOKE staff.  They have to know about it and act upon it.  Which would generate the legitimate question of who told them to do so and why.  Preet? a minor point but a bigger issue I think you are already exploring.  That should be another $300000 in legal fees for JJOKE.

If that bimonthly amendment was filed by Whiteman and approved by JJOKE the public would only see what we now see and the prior lobbying activity by Howe would be scrubbed from the public disclosure record.  BUT

JJOKE internal work flow would still show the who the what and the when.  AND

An intrepid reporter could prove it by FOILING the original filings and all amendments and/or the corresponding LR, LRA, LBR and LBRA numbers.

Knowing this I told Bragg to call Agata before he wrote his followup story.  I also told Agata Bragg would be asking that question.  Now I didn't provide either one the knowledge I just provided above.  After all I'm not a JJOKE consultant for the Times Union in fact I don't respect them or like the reporters that work there especially Casey "cut and paste" Seiler.  And I don't work for JJOKE hell I couldn't even get an interview for the job Agata got so let them figure it out for themselves.  And I wanted to see what Agata would do.  He did not disappoint.  Much like Walt McClueless he did a pretty good impersonation of Henry Lee Lucas and gave Bragg a no comment to the question of why was Howe's name scrubbed. 

It has left me baffled why JJOKE did not just explain what happened, take responsibility for a flaw in the on line system and state that they are investigating why Howe wasn't registered as a lobbyist, why Whiteman is being investigating for amending it's filings to remove Howe and for good measure why they are investigating Percoco for a revolving door violation.  Unless of course they are ignoring all those issues because unlike Henry Lee Lucas they are GUILTY.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Mrs. Agata can you straighten your husband out?

So I have it from a very reliable source that Seth Agata's wife is an avid reader of the blog.  Now she is Jewish so I'm guessing she either gets my neurotic side or she absolutely is disgusted by me.  I've been around a lot of Jewish women, including my mother so I know how I am perceived by that segment of society (it's also why I married a Sicilian).  In the hopes that she is a fan I am going to appeal to her to talk to her husband so he gets his head out of Dan Horwitz'z ass and doesn't repeat the mistakes of the executive directors that came before him.

At today's meeting he made a point to tell us how he has been on a listening tour of the good government groups and the various sides of the legislature, including the independent democratic conference aka Jeff Klein's I have to be a leader of something group.  How many times have I heard this same bullshit before?  If the good government groups and the legislature had answers we wouldn't need to keep replacing executive directors.  Changing the ethics laws is not the answer Seth.  YOU are the answer Seth, if your wife can get you to sack up and take control.  Blair Horner, Dick Dadey and Susan Lerner may make you comfortable but they are ethics losers, always were always will be (I kind of sound like Trump, huh?).

Todays meeting was a perfect example, instead of the inhumanely boring 30 minute lecture on the revolving door ban why not spend 5 minutes explaining how Joe Percoco violated that same ban and what JJOKE is doing about it.  That would have been memorable.  It also would have gotten you fired and into the private sector where you can earn the kind of living that will make Mrs. Agata happy.

See Mrs. Agata I am looking out for you.

No thanks necessary.

By the way Seth you meet with the good government groups but not with me?  Don't take this the wrong way but FUCK YOU.

You can pay for lunch next week.

$300000 to defend an opinion that JJOKE will not enforce

Now I could write volumes on JJOKE's opinion regarding pr consultants.  I'm making a lot of money advising the sharper pr firms on how to comply with the opinion without changing their business models and practices but I am baffled by why certain pr firms would spend what I am sure will total in the hundreds of thousands of dollars to mount a first amendment challenge to a JJOKE opinion.  Not a regulation, not an enforcement action but an opinion that has no binding legal effect.  JJOKE opinions are only binding on those that request an opinion.  This opinion was merely advisory.  A little bit of saber rattling, a very little bit if you truly understand JJOKE and how it operates.  As I said the sharp pr firms hired me and that was that I take care of the rest and they go right back to doing what they are good at.  The Berlin Rosens and Mercurys of the world hire Andrew Celli and drop major coin in an overreaction and will be pissed off when their federal case gets thrown out for any number of reasons.  Reasons Andrew Celli knows very well since he was a Lobby commissioner when Russel Simmons and the NYCLU brought federal litigation to stop an investigation by the Lobby Commission.  A case that was thrown out of Judge Preska's court much as this case will be.

But that's not the part that interests me, I figured that out about 2 minutes after the opinion was issued.  The interesting thing is JJOKE is spending at least $300000 to hire out of town lawyers to get the case thrown out, and they will.  $300000  that's $25000 a month.  And what will be the end result?  The lawyers make a lot of money (I wonder which JJOKE commissioner's law firm will receive referrals from the out of town lawyers?  This is Albany you know a quid pro quo was involved, I'm just surprised Todd Howe, Joe Percoco and Alain Kalyeros don't have ties to the out of town law firm)  And when all is said and done we have a JJOKE opinion that they have not used in an enforcement action (which by the way they can't since it has no binding effect on anyone).

The real question we should ask before spending $300000 is why doesn't Seth Agata actually follow the opinion and bring an enforcement action against those very same firms that are claiming the opinion violates their first amendment rights?  If it is chilling their free speech they must be engaging in action covered by the opinion.  All you need to do Seth is call the governor's office and get permission to start investigating these pr firms then the $300000 will at least be well spent because we might get a resolution to the issue.  That's assuming the governor's office will take your call I hear they are a little nervous of talking on the phone these days.

If JJOKE will not follow the opinion and investigate pr firms that refuse to register what was the point of the opinion in the first place?  Other than as a reason for Celli and this out of town law firm to make bank.

New York ethics at best is like playing with yourself.  The pleasure given equals the pleasure received.  At worst it is a massive Ponzi scheme, which is why Preet is too busy these days to play with himself.

Play on playa.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

DeBlasio and Laufer tell Cuomo and Agata to f off

An amazing thing happened Friday.

Laurence Laufer, the attorney for the Committee for One New York, wrote a letter to JJOKE's new head Seth Agata, telling him in no uncertain terms that he thought Agata and JJOKE were doing Cuomo's dirty work by issuing subpoenas to the Committee for One New York and that they would not comply.  Basically a f you to JJOKE and Cuomo

But that wasn't the amazing part, the amazing part was Seth Agata responded in the media.  IN THE MEDIA!!!!!   Just the day before I had suggested Seth do that very thing but I never thought he would.  Seth's response was basically a f you right back to Laufer and DeBlasio.  Especially his line that lobbyists don't get to pick who investigates them.  Classic tough guy line, there may be hope for Agata yet.  Just a couple of problems that I hope Seth considered.

First you just confirmed the investigation and the issuance of subpoenas.  That stuff is secret unless your commission votes and authorizes you to do so.  If they did GREAT keep it up if they didn't I can see somebody bringing an ethics complaint against you and forcing your recusal on this issue.

Assuming you didn't go rogue and had been authorized by a majority of JJOKE to divulge that confidential information don't stop in the future.  You can't pick and choose.  Is JJOKE investigating Todd Howe for being an unregistered lobbyist?  Have subpoenas been issued?  Is JJOKE investigating Joe Percocco for revolving door violations? for conflict of interest? for violating the Public Officers Law for his outside deals?  Have subpoenas been issued?

You see Seth that going public thing only works if you don't pick and choose when to be secretive.

You can't protect the second floor while you throw everyone else out there to be raw meat for the media.  When you do that you are proving Mr. DiBlasio's and Mr. Laugher's point that JJOKE is merely a tool of the governor being used to punish his enemies.

A belief that is so widespread as to be universally believed.

In fact why doesn't Agata and/or Laufer release the subpoena so we can all judge for ourselves if the investigation is on the up and up or merely a witch hunt.  In fact release the complaint that started the investigation and the executive session minutes where JJOKE discussed it.  Now that would be amazing.

On a related point the recent stories of Todd Howe's checkered financial past and Percoco's to for that matter got me thinking.

Why don't the good government groups push for a change in the financial disclosure reports to require the listing of bankruptcies and felonies and misdemeanors?  While they are at it they can require that public officials declare under penalty of perjury who they are having sex with.  It might save us all a lot of trouble if we knew ahead of time which public officials were broke, soon to be or former criminals, and who the media would be writing about as there love interest when they get convicted.

Now that would be useful ethical data.