I am by my nature a curious person.
It always served me well when I ran the Lobby Commission. I couldn't help myself I had to know what the lobbyists and public officials were up to.
It resulted in the Philip Morris gift case.
The Donald Trump unregistered lobby case.
The David Paterson airplane gift case.
The Shelly Silver Caesars gift case.
The NY Yankees gift case.
The Madison Square Garden gift case.
The Correctional Services gift case.
The AT&T lobby violation case.
The GTECH lobby violation case
The list goes on and on but they all involved my curiosity about how the worlds of lobbying and government interacted.
This curiosity also got me in trouble with powerful people all the time including:
and too many lobbyists, public officials and CEOs to count.
In the end it got the lobby commission abolished and ended my public career.
On the up side I can look at myself in the mirror and know I was an independent ethics enforcer.
Colorful, arrogant and willing to play by my rules and not the rules imposed by a corrupt system and yes I will admit I spoke to the media all the time when it advanced the cause and would again if I ever get that chance which brings me to Kevin Gagan and his conflict of interest.
I've been trying to meet Mr. Gagan for over 2 months, ever since he was appointed by the outgoing head of JJOKE to become the new head of JJOKE. And be honest LT that was exactly what you did. No one hires a person for $20k more than they are making to play second fiddle, especially if you knew you were leaving. And Kevin be honest, will you be staying if you have to work for the person JJOKE selects instead of you for the top job?
For the last week I called every day sometimes twice a day to extend the invitation. You see once Gagan didn't return my calls I became curious, it's just a habit.
Finally Gagan sends me a message thru a low level clerk "he will not be returning your call as he has applied for the job of executive director and it would be a conflict to meet with you since you have applied as well"
WOW Kevin must be a really deep thinker because I can't figure out what the conflict is.
So being the curious fellow I am I tell Times Union reporter Chris Bragg that Gagan has confirmed he is a candidate for the top job, and I let Bragg do his thing.
Lo and behold Gagan gives him an extensive on the record interview. Spending a large part of Friday afternoon talking and emailing Bragg. The resulting story can be found here
Now this story gives me some hope that Gagan may be different than the previous JJOKE and PIC heads, you see this is the first time I can recall anyone in his position doing an interview since I held that job.
Of course it also brings up many new questions that need to be asked.
Was it a violation of the Public Officers Law for Gagan to do an interview and use state resources to advance his own personal position? After all his candidacy is not something he should be working on while on state time.
How did Gagan know I applied? Did he actually see my application because that would be using his official position to benefit his personal situation, another violation.
And on that point why is Gagan allowed to be in meetings with people at JJOKE discussing the search for the next executive director? The other 70 applicants don't have that advantage. Maybe Gagan should resign while his application is pending to avoid the appearance of impropriety. If you think coffee with another presumed applicant is a conflict what is using your position at JJOKE to get a leg up on the competition?
If he was relying on what I have written in the blog to establish I have applied he needs to sharpen up his investigative skills because I lie all the time on the blog.
Having aired some possible issues Gagan's actions have brought to the public eye lets turn to his actual comments in the interview.
My personal favorite is the following:
"Gagan said he was too new at JCOPE to have specific ideas about reforms for the oft-criticized watchdog, but he found the prospect of leading its staff compelling."
Let me translate. I have no idea how to run this agency but I am absolutely certain I am the right man to do it.
How about this one:
"The idea that I'm a Cuomo lackey is funny," Gagan said. "Those who know me well find it rather comical."
I like a good laugh Kevin who are these people that know you well that can explain to us that it is comical? On paper you have relied on Cuomo for your last three jobs including traveling around the state defending the Governor's Safe Act. I think there is a presumption that you are a Cuomo lackey until you prove otherwise. I was a Bruno lackey so I know what a lackey looks like. But you can prove your independence from Cuomo just put together a list like mine at the top of this blog. I'll give you a freebie Cuomo violation that you can prove your independence with. Investigate the governors book deal and it's promotion. Did he cut a deal with a client of a lobbyist that amounts to an illegal gift? Did he use his state office to promote his book? You can read my previous blog entries about these issues to save some deep thinking. Look into Cuomo's actions and then you are Cuomo lackey no more of course you are also unemployed but worse things can happen to a talented manager with expertise in ethics. Wait a minute you don't have that expertise in ethics or management do you Mr. Gagan? Don't worry you can get on the job training after you are hired as the next executive director.
And make no mistake you will be the next executive director, which means saying ""It's not up to the governor, it's up to the 14 commissioners," Gagan said. "I'll respect whatever they decide." is not a good idea. The governor may read that and decide you are telling the truth in which case you will have to leave and go work at the Tax Department with the other former executive directors who couldn't handle the job.
And that Kevin is why I wanted to have coffee with you. I was just curious what kind of executive director you will be and I wanted to see if you would listen to my advice. Some that have come before you have and some haven't.
At the end of the day it just determines how I go about satisfying my curiosity about what's going on at JJOKE.
But Kevin . . . a conflict of interest? having a cup of coffee and meeting someone who practices in this field is a conflict of interest? really? You've got to do better than that.
I'll see you for coffee Wednesday or Thursday and we can talk about it and decide if we are going to get along or hate each other.
But I warn you I am an arrogant asshole . . . but my research and your recent interview shows you may be in touch with that emotion already.