Thursday, November 4, 2010


Over 150 days ago I requested an advisory opinion from the Public Integrity Commission on a widely attended event. I thought I was playing nice, I gave them almost one half a year to issue the opinion and the facts are pretty simple and straight forward. Quite frankly I had little doubt my clients event met the requirements most recently published by the commission but an advisory opinion would be a twofer. First my client could hold their event with no concerns regarding commission retaliation and second the lobbying community would finally have an opinion in writing that the commission would have trouble twisting in the future to fit its retaliatory modus operandi.

Well the clown show that is PIC never ceases to disappoint me. At the last commission meeting they were discussing changes to the widely attended event exception again, and again the discussion had no basis in reality. One is left to wonder what color the clouds are in the commissions executive sessions.

With that backdrop I received a letter from the PIC today. By the way getting letters from PIC is like Christmas for me all I can think is what have these clowns done now?

Well this time it was the head clown Barry telling me that they don’t know when the commission will get its act together and issue this simple opinion. (what do these commissioners do other than stuff their faces at 2 hour commission meeting executive sessions and turn New York’s once proud tradition of integrity into a model that only Elliot Spitzer and his minions could follow. (Mr. Cuomo please put this sick dog agency out of our misery quickly). Barry’s suggestion – that I let him issue an informal opinion since it will be quicker.

Are you kidding me? Barry I’m not sure you have ever read the lobby act or have the legal chops to write an opinion on this subject even if you have but beyond that WHAT IS AN INFORMAL OPINION?

I have reproduced my letter back to Barry below

Dear Mr. Ginsberg:

I am in receipt of your letter dated November 1, 2010 requesting permission to treat my request of June 6, 2010 for a formal opinion (that’s 151 days ago) as a request for an “informal opinion”.

Putting aside for the moment my belief that commission staff and the executive director lack the ability or knowledge to provide such an opinion. And further putting aside the clear animus the commission staff, the executive director and the chairman have shown towards me and my clients, before I can authorize you to treat my request as one for an “informal opinion” I will require answers to some simple questions as follows:

1. I find no authority in the Lobby Act or Executive Law section 94 for the issuance of an “informal opinion”. If no such authority exists how can you state that if the “informal opinion” advises that the event fits within the exception “your client would not be subject to a potential enforcement proceeding”? Are you suggesting that your promise may be relied upon? As we both know history and the apology letter you have previously provided me would necessitate my skepticism regarding your trustworthiness.

2. You state that “The Commission has authorized the Executive Director to issue informal opinions”. Executive Law section 94(9) requires any such delegation to be in writing and to enumerate such specific powers that have been delegated. Can you provide a copy of the written delegation providing you the power to issue an “informal opinion”?

3. If indeed you have been delegated such power, am I correct that the effect would be to turn the “informal opinion” into an advisory opinion that would be required to be published pursuant to Lobby Law section 1-d(f) ? If the answer is yes please consider this correspondence to be a FOIL request for all “informal opinions” issued pursuant to written delegation under Executive Law section 94(9).

After I have received your response to the previous questions I will confer with my client and provide you an answer to your question regarding providing an “informal opinion”

The moral of this story is if you have an “informal opinion” from Barry it may not be worth the paper it’s printed on and second when these clowns are gone the next commission should make new rules going forward and never look at the train wreck in their rear view mirror.

Triage has been defined by the Public Integrity Commission as “the inability to answer simple questions while looking pompous and self important”

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