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

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

See an ethics violation dial 1-800-JJOKE

It was that time of the month again a JJOKE commission meeting.  So off I go to JJOKE.  I stopped on the way at Eggy's lunch truck to grab the areas best egg sandwich.  I got it to go thinking I would eat it at the meeting so that I at least accomplished something by sitting there.  And as usual neither Eggy nor JJOKE disappointed.  The sandwich was delicious and watching the JJOKERs looks of dismay that I would sully their very serious meeting by eating breakfast was a bonus.  For the record the meeting lasted 8 minutes the eggwhich lasted 6.  And there was HUGE news on the ethics front . . . JJOKE has a 1800 tip line and a new poster.  Thats right after 3 years they have a poster to show for all there hard work.  And they are going to distribute the poster thruout the state.  WOW that is impressive, quite the accomplishment.   One small problem JJOKE has had a tip line on their website since it was created.  I've used it and they ignore the complaints they receive.  Will the 1800 line be any different? Yes now the 2nd floor can moniter all complaints and WAIT now there is a poster too so that should make all the difference.  At what point do these commissioners all "very accomplished" people realize they are a laughing stock? a running JJOKE?

I got a small glimpse into how delusional they are when commissioner Mike Romeo left the executive session and was standing close enough for me to engage him in conversation.  I asked Mike if he thought the poster would make a difference (I did so in a serious tone of voice)  He responded that he did when combined with other efforts they were engaged in.  I then asked if he was aware that JJOKE has had a tip line on the website for over 2 years.  His look was priceless.  It is the look of a smart person who just realized how foolish JJOKE has made him.  After a little more give and take he stated the classic JJOKE line "I just want to do whats right"   So I then asked why doesn't JJOKE investigate the state democratic party for being an unregistered lobbyist as a result of there lobbying ads.  His answer "well all the parties do it"   YES MIKE THEY DO SO INVESTIGATE ALL OF THEM.

A poster thats what JJOKE thinks will clean up Albany


Albany ethics is doomed

Monday, June 23, 2014

JJOKE even when they try they come up short

It's been one month since I last blogged about JJOKE.  I've been trying a new approach rather than ridicule them publicly on the blog I've been having extensive dialogue with LT (the executive director) in the hope that some of my constructive criticism may just seep into the JJOKE executive sessions.   I doubt it does but if nothing else I no longer have to keep close tabs on that idiot Milgram and worry about what he may be up to. 

Now I think LT is trying hard within a very sensitive situation to try to do some good at JJOKE.  I don't think she has yet but she is trying and one on one without the filter of 2nd floor control and idiot commissioners she is exceedingly bright and insightful so it is fun to match wits with her.  But publicly the combination of gubernatorial control, commissioners that are only interested in following political orders or worse are not getting any orders at all and are following their own political instincts (or lack thereof) and a staff that may be the most incompetent in NYS government has left LT in an untenable position and JJOKE continues to underwhelm.

For example source of funding disclosures.

Now you could argue the policy implications of requiring the source of funding disclosure to begin with but who cares the legislature passed it and the governor signed it for better or worse.

Now you could argue that the effective date was established by JJOKE to protect the governors friends and give them time to adjust to the mistake of passing the source of funding requirement to begin with but who cares Biden did it for better or worse and Ravi resigned over it and complained  both publicly and privately to the US Attorney.

Now you could argue that once it was effective JJOKE had an obligation to enforce it uniformly but who cares they are not enforcing it at all and no matter how many times I have pointed out that Susan Lerner and Common Cause filed but failed to accurately disclose their source of funding JJOKE has ignored my complaint.

Now you could argue that even if JJOKE was not going to enforce it they should make the disclosure as painless as possible for the regulated community and here is where I started to care because last January in typical JJOKE fashion they required those filing on paper forms (over 50% of clients) to fill out an additional form after they had already filed.  Now this form was something that online filers did not have to do and simply put was an example of how out of touch JJOKE was and is with the regulated community.  But rather than blog about their incompetence I tried a new approach and just called LT and explained what her staff had done (without her knowledge) and the effect it had.  She got it immediately but then shocked me by asking what I would do if I was her.  After I sat down I told her.  Apologize for the f up.  Tell the regulated community you are sorry and don't worry about the extra form and fix the form before the next filing period of July 15, six months away (it should have taken about 6 minutes to fix the forms).  And lo and behold that is what happened everything except that fixing the form thing, JJOKE waited until last Friday to do that.  I'm sure a whole shitload of overpaid under talented JJOKE lawyers had to work on that without any consideration to how the real world of lobbying works, but after 6 months we have new forms.

Now you could argue and I have that you should not require an affirmative statement that you are not required to disclose source of funding anymore than you should have to do it for reportable business relationships.

Now you could argue and I will when LT returns my call that you don't change the forms during a filing period TH ATS JUST PLAIN STUPID.

But the part that is pissing me off enough to blog about it is the fact that some idiot at JJOKE posted the new form on the website right next to the directions for the old form that required a separate affidavit (the reason I spoke to LT in January to begin with) and I know a bunch of clients are going to file their source of funding using the wrong forms and then call me to fix it.  So LT lets find out which of your many well intentioned but incompetent lawyers fed it up this time and just apologize again and wait till 2015 to implement the new forms.  You aren't enforcing it anyway so who cares.

Now on the positive side JJOKE's recently implemented gift regulations have effectively carved out a loophole for elected officials large enough that illegal gifts may now be a thing of the past.  In the old days I would have said it was done on the orders of the leaders now... I think JJOKE just stepped on their own vestigialous appendage by accident.

One last note on the positive side this new sexual harassment hotline at JJOKE?  At least now the JJOKE commissioner's have something involving real sex to pay attention to so they can stop the ethical masturbation they have been practising for the last 7 years.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

JJOKE meeting gives ED LT a chance to shine

The public portion of the meeting lasted 4 minutes start to finish, and for that congratulations go out to executive director Latizia Tagliafierro.  LT took the lead when Dan "I hate this job" Horwitz asked who would explain the status of the various regulations on the agenda.  Those of us who follow JJOKE were dreading a long boring 45 minute convoluted explanation from Shari Calnero.  And Shari looked like she was ready to do just that as she shuffled her copious notes but LT stepped in and basically said everything is on track and we can vote on them next meeting.   2 minutes max.  Nice job LT.

But you really have to wonder why they bother having a public meeting at all.  The private closed door meeting they had before the 4 minute public meeting was ongoing for over 15 minutes and they did a 4 hour executive session followed by Horwitz's cryptic "we did some of this and we did some of that" wrap up speech.   By the way Dan why not tells us in detail what you did?  There is no reason for secrecy if you can announce that you did a substantial basis investigation report you can tell us the who why and when.

These guys and gals will never understand it's not the substance of what you do in secret it's the appearance.  Dress like a hooker and you should not be surprised if someone like ex governor Spitzer offers you cash.

And speaking of cash when will JJOKE announce who they retained to represent them in the US Attorney's investigation of who really controls the independent JJOKE?

News from inside JJOKE

Big JJOKE commission meeting today.

And while the agenda appears to be another boring, lawerly examination of how many different ways JJOKE can screw up their attempt to pass regulations I'm reliably informed by my web of inside sources and hidden listening devices that the real action will be during the executive session where . . .

They will be discussing hiring a criminal defense attorney to represent JJOKE as part of the ever expanding federal investigation into gubernatorial control of the state's various ethics agencies.

Please lord let Rob Cohen hit the mute button again so we can listen in.

I'd love to hear the various arguments for and against the criminal defense attorney the 2nd floor  ooops, Chairman Horwitz has selected.

Commissioners like Gary Lavine and Seymour Knox will be lobbying hard for their own attorneys paid for by the commission while Marvin Jacobs, Renee Roth and Gary Busey will insist on the selection of a firm with ties to the Speaker's office.

My guess is Weismann already has contacted his own lawyer and Cavullo and Rath are waiting for Skelos's office to tell them who to use.

And then you have the staff at JJOKE.  Everyone of them will be shocked when they have to talk to the US Attorney's Office, and everyone will do their best Sgt. Schultz impersonation "I know nothing".

Just a friendly reminder Gary, over six months ago I told you I no longer cared to speak with you and when you asked why I told you it was because I never wanted to have to testify in a criminal prosecution related to gubernatorial control over JJOKE.   Consider this my


Monday, May 19, 2014

David Boies, integrity, airplanes and why I must be the dumbest guy in the room

I just did a blog on Peter Moschetti, one of if not the best lawyers I've ever met and certainly one of the most ethical ethics commissioner's I've ever been exposed to.  The blog had to do with integrity and airplanes.

And it got me thinking about David Boies, airplanes, integrity and great lawyers.

Now I've never met David Boies but he did keep me waiting for 2 hours one Saturday for a conference call that never happened about airplane investigations and JJOKE.  I still have an unpaid invoice for $2000 outstanding for those 2 hours but after watching Mr. Boies performance surrounding his giving a free lift to David Ellenhorn, a state lawyer in litigation involving one of Mr. Boies clients, I know I'm not nearly smart enough to ever collect that invoice.

For almost 6 months I've been trying to figure out how David Boies could have stated that "I do not believe there was any misconduct on Mr. Ellenhorn's part in accepting the ride I offered". 

For almost 6 months I've been trying to figure out how neither David Boies nor David Ellenhorn have been charged with violating the Public Officers Law for offering and accepting an illegal gift.

For almost 6 months I've been trying to figure out how David Ellenhorn could have even been in Omaha deposing the head of Berkshire Hathaway, Warren Buffet, given that David Ellenhorn was a shareholder in Berkshire Hathaway. 

For almost 6 months I've been trying to figure out how David Ellenhorn could have failed to disclose this fact on his financial disclosure report at the time.

For almost 6 months I've been trying to figure out how David Boies's former law partner Harlan Levy could have made all those phone calls to David Boies current partner Nick Gravante the weekend the plane trip first appeared in the media,  when Harlan Levy was suppose to be "walled off" from cases involving his former partners.

And after 6 months I've realized if I can't figure it out it has to be because I am wrong on the law regarding offering and accepting gifts from a disqualified source or David Boies is the greatest ethics lawyer ever.

Lets review the law first.  It's pretty straight forward.

JJOKE's predecessor commission stated as follows in Opinion 8-01:

"The Commission reaffirms this general rule that State officers and employees should not, directly or indirectly, solicit a gift of nominal value from a disqualified source, nor should a disqualified source, directly or indirectly, offer or give a gift of nominal value to a State officer or employee. 

            A “disqualified source” is an individual who, on his or her own behalf or on behalf of a non-governmental entity, or a non-governmental entity on its own behalf which:
(4)        is involved in litigation, adverse to the State, with the State agency with which the State officer or employee is employed or affiliated, and no final order has been issued;"
It seems you don't have to be the greatest lawyer of your generation to understand if you are involved in litigation with the state (David Boies was) you don't offer a free chartered jet trip worth thousands of dollars to opposing counsel (David Ellenhorn).  And if you are a state employee (David Ellenhorn was) you don't accept the offer and take the free trip on the private jet.  Yet they did and neither has been punished for it.  David Boies is still representing the party litigating with the State and David Ellenhorn is still the lead counsel on that case.
So if the law is as clear as it is why hasn't JJOKE done something about it?
Because David Boies is that good.
As far as a JJOKE investigation goes David Boies may just be bulletproof, the Teflon barrister when it comes to providing private jet trips to state employees.  
I had heard disturbing rumors about JJOKE and Boies and I had wondered why Boies acted like he had nothing to worry about when he was discussing the jet trip in the media.
Now after seeing Boies in action I have to wonder why Al Gore wasn't president.