Tuesday, July 6, 2010


Did you know that the Public Integrity Commission’s Executive Director, Barry Ginsberg, is married to a registered lobbyist?
It’s true. Ginsberg is married to Linda Wagner, who has worked for a number of politically-connected organizations. Most recently, she has served as executive director and lobbyist for the Association of County Health Officials.
Putting aside the very real ethical issue that Ms. Wagner actively lobbies government officials under her husband’s jurisdiction. The more immediate question is how can the rest of us get treated like the boss’s wife?

What do I mean?

Mr. Ginsberg stated in his 2008 Financial Disclosure report that his wife was regulated by the NYS Commission on Public Integrity. Small problem, Mrs. Wagner WAS NOT REGISTERED as a lobbyist in 2008 so how could she be regulated by the commission her husband runs? Should she have been? Her husband apparently thought so and he should know.

Failing to register is a big no-no. It’s the kind of transgression for which other lobbyists have been assessed a heavy fine. But what do you think happened to Mrs. Ginsberg? It turns out that nothing happened.

But wait it gets better, for 2009 Mrs. Wagner finally registered as a lobbyist. The registration statement was received by the commission on December 30, 2008 but all was not kosher and it took until March 16, 2009 for the registration to be completed, over 60 days after it was due.

Did the Boss’s wife get charged a late fee? I don’t think so. Did the Boss’s wife get a helpful phone call telling her what needed to be done? I’d bet on it. Do the rest of you in the lobbying community get that kind of treatment? You know the answer to that one. Of course you don’t sleep with the Boss.

And for the record I asked commission flack Walter Ayers for the “workflow notes” that are electronically attached to all filings to determine if Mrs. Wagner got that helpful phone call. You guessed it, Walter says that workflow notes are not among the documents that the commission has to make publicly available.

You can’t make this stuff up. And if you did no one would believe you.

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