You get what you pay for.
Just when you think the brain trust at JJOKE (defined as smart NYC lawyers and/or friends and relatives of Biben or Uncle Vinny) have done all they can to insure their collective reputations as incompetent they exceed expectations.
What am I talking about? Well right on the heels of their proposed regulations for source of funding they have rolled out guidelines for reportable business relationships.
Now readers of the blog know that while the JOKE’s definitions for source of funding will result in customers of certain businesses and members of certain organizations being identified publicly the harm is minimized by the fact that so few people are going to be affected.
But when it comes to reportable business relationships the JOKE’s guidelines are so broad that the potential for mischief is truly monumental.
This requirement was the result of various scandals over the last several years involving public officials receiving money for “consulting” jobs from people with business with the state. They might as well have called it the Joe Bruno Disclosure Act. But as with many other changes to ethics that occur in New York as a reaction to scandal, by the time the lawyers are done drafting the legislation and implementing the guidelines it has very little relation to the problem that was its genesis. So too with reportable business relationships. If the goal was to disclose the Bruno type arrangements that exist the law misses the mark and JJOKE’s guidelines aren’t even in the ballpark.
Remember Bruno did not have a reportable business relationship with a lobbyist or the client of a lobbyist therefore no one would have been required to disclose the relationship.
So who will have to disclose a business relationship under the JOKE guidelines? Every lobbyist and/or their clients who do business with ANY state employee legislator or legislative employee.
Well what’s wrong with that?
Try this example: A lobbyist at a large lobbying firm has her hair styled by a state employee who does hairstyling as a part time job. Over the course of a year she spends over $1000 on hair styling. As a result the lobbyist’s employer must disclose the name of the hair stylist the nature of the relationship and the amount spent on hairstyling. That should slow down the Bruno in all of us.
How about this one: A client of a lobbyist is a bank, say JP Morgan Chase, and JP Morgan Chase loans over $1000 to a state employee, say JJOKE ED Ellen Biben, to finance the hairstyling that she pays a state employee, as in the example above. Under the JOKE guidelines JP Morgan Chase would have to disclose that Ms. Biben borrowed money, the amount and the purpose. Information that would be redacted from Ms. Biben’s financial disclosure report but will now be available in the JP Morgan semi annual report.
Or this one: A client of a lobbyist, say Wal-Mart, sells a state employee, say John Milgram over $1000 worth of cigarettes during the year. You guessed it, under the JOKE guidelines we get to find out how many cigarettes John buys from Wal-Mart in a year.
But you still will not know which high ranking public officials have nefarious consulting arrangements with shadowy people benefitting from the public officials largesse.
How much are we paying those lawyers at the JOKE to do this stellar work and why were they hired?
Good luck getting that disclosure.
And don't get me wrong I don't think the JOKE intended these guidelines to be used to catch a state legislator who may purchase tickets to sporting events from the client of a registered lobbyist but does anyone trust Biben and her handlers not to use them in that fashion if they get the chance?