Martin Levine, JJOKE's Director of Lobbying did the regulated community a huge favor yesterday. He got mad enough at my questioning to lose his composure and give us a glimpse at what is really behind the JJOKE policy regarding source of funding disclosures.
I used to think JJOKE was just being incompetent when they tried to pass regulations to implement the poorly drafted legislation enacted in 2011 requiring disclosure of donor identity. They changed the regulations over and over again to correct the initial broad overreach that Cuomo's lackey Ellen Biben and his hand picked Westchester get out of jail free card, Janet Difiore, kept trying to implement (by the way what does it say about the quality of our judicial system that those two are now judges? Biben at the Court of Claims and DiFiore as the Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals. Cuomo can pick whom he likes but we should judge him, no pun intended, by the body of their work and judging by what a mess those two made of JJOKE I'd say we are in for a rough ride). As an aside they are not the only NY ethics commissioners that have gone on from ruining NY ethics agencies to positions of great power. Don't forget Loretta Lynch our current Attorney General. True story, I know a former staffer that saw her fall asleep during a commission meeting. And by the way Loretta Lynch asleep may do less harm than almost all of the present commissioners are doing every meeting. But I digress.
Back to JJOKE's incompetency. Originally the source of funding disclosure regulations applied to everyone other than C3 charitable organizations, but JJOKE realized there are no "donations" to a for profit entity so they are excluded, which left only not for profit C4 charitable organizations and only on a going forward basis. I choose to believe Biben and Difiore decided to postpone implementation in a spirit of fairness to those donors who had an expectation of privacy, the fact that the largest effected group allegedly had ties to Cuomo I am sure played no role in JJOKE's decisions. And the C4 charitable organizations that were large enough to qualify were required to list their donors. Not their donors donors nor were they required to trace the source of funding back to it's original source. All in all a pretty harmless if useless application. JJOKE itself in 2015 confirmed the limited nature of the statute by publishing a report calling for more restrictive legislation and admitting that donors choosing to protect their anonymity need only "pass thru" their donations. The original JJOKE regulations never took into account the treatment of anonymous charitable donations. I guess the geniuses serving as JJOKE commissioners and staff don't make charitable donations so they don't understand what happens when your name ends up on a list of donors. Anyway I digress again although I do admit I would very much like to know who JJOKE commissioners and staff donate to (it reminds me of the old days when Spitzer's AG lawyers were representing the lobby commission in a suit brought by the New York Civil Liberties Union and I found out our AG lawyer had donated to the group suing us. Seemed to me like a conflict but the limousine liberals at Spitzer's AG office disagreed).
Back to the main point, my dustup with Martin.
I no longer can blame JJOKE's incompetence for what occurs at JCOPE. Their is something much more sinister afoot.
Under the new legislation passed by the legislature but still unsigned by the governor - and I have heard from a very high source inside JJOKE that the legislation was the result of a deal between the governor and the republican senate that gave the legislature confidentiality of JJOKE investigations in return for the governor getting source of funding disclosure for the C3 world (which I'm also told happened because Alfonso David had no clue what effect the source of funding would have on the Gov's allies and donors but was only focused on harming the good government groups)- small C4 charitable organizations will have to disclose their donors. That's bad enough but JJOKE's emergency regulations are going to be applied retroactively. THAT'S JUST NOT FAIR our entire system of jurisprudence is based on the concept that no law should be applied retroactively. When I pointed this out to Martin, specifically with regards to those donors that might donate before the legislation is signed by the governor, his angry response unmasked what is really going on. He said "then don't donate". That's what this is really about. It's not about donor disclosure it's about donor defunding. Cut off the flow of donations to small not for profits who may oppose the ruling powers positions and you stifle dissent. Only the for profits and large charitable groups that can afford lawyers like me to advise on how to maintain anonymity (read this http://davidgrandeau.blogspot.com/2016/06/how-to-protect-your-donors.html) will be able to effectively lobby.
Ask yourself what real purpose is served by knowing the identity of those who donate to small charitable lobbying organizations? If there was real value in that information wouldn't JJOKE be making the data available right now in a format that the public could use? But they don't they just tell you DON'T DONATE.
And that's not the worst thing the no talent power hungry Preet wannabe's that call themselves JJOKE commissioners are doing. My sources, once again inside JJOKE at the highest levels, are complaining that JJOKE commissioners are forcing staff to commence investigations into alleged gifts made by lobbyists who hire firms, family or friends of government officials. In this town that's practically everyone. If I were Evan Stavisky I'd be very worried that every client that hired him would be investigated for making an illegal gift to his mom the Senator. Maybe Wilson Elser should be worried about that long ago hiring of Ken Bruno, how about Revlon for hiring Pataki's wife, the list goes on and on. And if they start in on girlfriends and mistresses the list might be endless. Not to mention if they look at favors staff on the second floor got, oops they would never do that I forgot.
I guess the commissioners are proving two points. First, they run the commission not staff and second, what's the point of having the power to investigate if you can't abuse it.