Thursday, October 21, 2010


Everyone is reading the IGs report about Aqueduct today, and I’m sure it is Joe Fisch’s typical thorough and thoughtful work. I won’t be blogging about that report but I will be about another far less noticed but equally if not more important report the IG recently released.

You can find it here,%202008-2010.pdf.

It is the IG’s two year report to the governor detailing the office’s work over the last two years.

If Mike the ex chair can get off his conflicted high horse long enough to triage his time and read this report he would see how an integrity agency is suppose to operate.

In fact let me suggest had we given Joe Fisch the jurisdiction over the same folks that Mike the ex chair has with the PIC the State might not have needed to worry about all the scandals that have occurred and not been investigated or investigated improperly by Mike the ex chair and his minions.

While Mike the ex chair whines about his lack of resources and makes excuses for a laughing stock integrity agency, Joe Fisch has gone about his business without complaint and has gotten the job done. Read the report and you will see what I mean.

My only question is why hasn’t Barry, Ralph and the rest of the clown posse followed up on the IG’s work? Too busy inventing lifetime ban’s I guess.

You will note that PIC is featured prominently in the report and not in a good way. With any luck I will be able to read about some of my complaints about Mike the ex chair, Barry and Ralph in the next two year report Joe Fisch releases.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


The commission just posted its draft minutes of its last meeting. The meeting wherein ex chair Michael Cherkasky announced his resignation as I blogged about last week.

Remember I noted that Mike the ex-chair was overstaying his welcome by announcing his resignation 75 days in advance of when he plans on stepping down, and that the lawyers ought to check on it? (I like a fair fight so I needed to give Barry and the clown posse a head start)

Well Barry must have found someone smarter than him to do the research because lo and behold when you read the draft minutes Mike the ex-chair hasn’t resigned he’s just letting everyone know when he will be stepping down.

Here’s what the minutes say:

Chairman Michael Cherkasky announced that it has been an incredible pleasure
working with this group of people and being Chairman of this Commission.
Unfortunately, things have changed in his professional life. The company of
which he is CEO acquired a company called Kroll in August. Since Kroll handles
so many different matters, it’s not in the interest of this Commission or the State
for him to continue to be Chairman. To protect himself, his company and the Commission, effective in January, he will be stepping down with his regrets. He
will participate in the December meeting.”

Now I have a pretty good memory and that’s not what I remembered Mike the ex-chair saying plus I don’t trust Barry so I went to the video of the meeting. It has to be posted within 2 business days of the meeting i.e. by Monday, today’s Wednesday so it should be on the website.

Now I know it must be another one of those computer malfunctions the commission has become famous for but you cannot access the video of the meeting at this time.

Hmmmm, well I am a patient man I’ve waited over 2 months for Mike the ex-chair to answer my simple question of has the commission changed the way it calculates due dates, I’ve waited over 4 months for an opinion on a widely attended event I can wait for the video to be posted as long as it happens in the next 24 days.

What’s magic about 24 days? Well that’s 30 days from when Mike the ex-chair announced his resignation and under the Public Officer’s Law that’s when the resignation becomes effective if the date Mike the ex-chair picked is more than 30 days from his announcement.

Theirs a good reason for this law Mike, it’s to deal with folks like you who have conflicts and think by announcing that they will quit in the future that magically cures the conflict, it doesn’t. I hate to admit it but you where right when you said “it’s not in the interest of this Commission or the State for me to continue to be Chairman”

Now just in case that video malfunction never gets fixed I’ve requested a copy of a transcript of the meeting, you are required by law to provide it.

This isn’t like two people in a he said she said argument about who’s lying, (Barry wins those all the time) in this case eventually we will know for sure.

And just to show you what’s beneath me Mike . . . you could always withdraw your resignation. if you have bothered to send it at all, but those conflicts are not going away and folks are starting to notice and question your integrity in staying on when even you know “it’s not in the interest of this Commission or the State for me to continue to be Chairman”

Do the State and the Commission a huge favor and at least follow the Public Officers Law on your way out because you sure missed the boat on the way in. (a vote of confidence for Hurb Teitelbaum? Really? I mean really?)

Friday, October 15, 2010


Public Integrity Chairman Michael Cherkasky announced his resignation yesterday. In so doing he joins an ever growing list of PIC bigwigs who came in with sterling reputations (at least according to the spitzer minions) and left with their tails between their legs.

As an aside for an excellent review of just how bad disgraced former executive director and former chairman Teitelbaum and Feerick were you should read Lloyd Constantine’s book and it’s description of how they got appointed and why.

But back to Mike the ex chair, he said he has resigned effective January 1, 2011 due to the many conflicts that have arisen from his company’s acquisition of Kroll. And I might add Mike the ex chair did a wonderful advertisement for Kroll on camera pointing out that every law firm in the top 100 list uses them. Do you really think that was an appropriate use of state resources Mike? State resources that the commission had to pay overtime for because you’re catered executive session lasted 3 hours. Doing more with less doesn’t mean more eating with less financial restraint Mike.

But back to those conflicts. If you have them now they are not going away in the next 3 months. (I foiled the list of recusals Mike the ex chair has had, anyone want to bet if they provide them?) If the conflicts are sufficient to require your resignation the resignation should be effective immediately or worst case within the next 30 days.

Why don’t you have your crack lawyers research it for you? If Ralph and Barry can’t find the statute tell them to give me a call I’ll show them the law.

Since you will not be at the next meeting other than in the audience (and we both know that’s beneath you) let me say goodbye now. You have continued the tradition of scandal plagued PIC bigwigs lets hope the next one is better, the bar has been set pretty low, so low its almost beneath me huh Mike.

Thursday, October 14, 2010


I just got back from the latest marathon PIC meeting and although they spent 3 of the 4 hours in executive session (weird how during executive session food is brought in and the trolls on the 2nd floor all get to go in and eat – must be an example of the type of meals that would violate the gift ban) some interesting things did happen in public.

First a lively discussion regarding staffs suggested legislative recommendations gave those of us in the audience insight into how staff would like the gift ban to be and more importantly we got to see that at least a couple of the commissioners think the staff opinion on gifts is wrong as many of us listening thought.

Barry starts off by suggesting that the intent portion of the gift ban be removed because if you are a lobbyist or the client of a lobbyist your intent is to influence public officials per se. DOPE And kudos to new commissioner Carpinello for his lucid and valid concerns about such an approach.

Then Barry moved on to his personal belief that their should be a complete ban on gifts no exceptions. He pointed out that when he was a prosecutor in Morgenthau’s Manhattan DA’s office that was their rule and it was easy to follow. DOPE You forget Barry that your hero Mr. Morgenthau was caught accepting a gift from the NY Yankees of baseball tickets. A gift that cost the Yankees considerable money in the form of a fine from the old NYS Lobby Commission.

Commissioners continued to object to the various proposals and tried to come up with new ones on the fly, by the way who thought of the new idea that if you invite 100 people to an event it’s widely attended no matter how many attend? You guys keep pulling numbers out of your ass like you got a message from god. First it was 25 including public officials and spouses (that was yours Mike the chair) then it was 25 not counting spouses (that was Ralphs) now its 100 invited. DOPES

Finally Commissioner Apuzzo noted that the discussion was a monumental waste of time since it had been discussed numerous times before and no decision would be made today (At least there are two commissioners that appear to have level heads). Mike the chair tried to shut down the discussion but Barry just couldn’t read the tea leaves and kept going until finally Mike the chair mercifully put an end to it.

My conclusion is that left to his own devices Barry would draw and quarter any lobbyist he could catch, other than his wife one would assume. Let’s hope the rational commissioners see this.

Following the aforementioned 3 hour catered executive session Mike the chair announced that he would soon be Mike the ex chair as he is resigning effective January 1st due to his extensive conflicts. As an aside if your conflicts are forcing you to resign shouldn’t you do it immediately? Either you have them or you don’t.

Mike the ex chair then asked if anyone had any questions for the commission. Are you kidding I waited three hours while you gorged yourself in executive session you know I’m asking a question. And it was another simple one, here it is as best I recall

I asked you two months ago if the commission had changed the way it calculates due dates. You said it was a simple question. I sent you letters on August 12, 13 and 19 and on September 10 asking when I could expect an answer. To date you still haven’t answered the simple question and it’s evident to all present that you don’t plan to. With that thought in mind and recognizing I’m the only person who has asked a question in over a year why do you continue to allow the public to ask questions you don’t ever plan on answering?

Believe it or not Mike the ex chair answered my question. No not the one from 2 months ago but this one and here’s his answer.

We are busy
We are understaffed
We will get to it when we get to it

Then he added and we know you think because the “great” David Grandeau asked the question it should get precedence.

WOW the ex chair is a little thin skinned

And come to think about it he never really answered my question of why they continue to have a question session but that’s par for the course with this crowd

I then asked my follow up question after noting that I thought Mike the ex chairs sarcasm in his “great” comment was beneath him.

The follow-up was the following

Can you update me on the status of the complaint I made about Ralph contacting my client regarding collection of a late fee after both Mike the ex chair and Barry confirmed that the commission would not take further collection action.

Talk about throwing gas on a fire Mike the ex chairs response was to note that while I thought his sarcasm was beneath him he now believed nothing was beneath me.

Mike I’ve been around prima donnas and thin skinned folks a long time remember I did a dozen years running the lobby commission. A dozen years without the public humiliation and scandal that your commission has brought upon itself in its short existence. But I must congratulate you I’ve never seen a public official so honest in his animus against a party appearing before him. You might want to check section 74 (h) of the Public Officers Law or in the alternative recuse yourself from anything involving me or my clients post haste.

And don’t worry Mike I don’t take it as personally as you do I only care about the opinion of people I respect or believe have more knowledge or integrity than I do. I’ll let my public record speak for itself yours already has.

After Mike the ex chairs glimpse into his true feelings he went on to explain that Ralph contacting my client was an administrative error for which they were sorry and that I would receive a letter to that effect. After his answer to my first question I won’t hold my breath but it was nice to see he is capable of admitting his mistakes.

All in all an interesting visit to a train wreck.

Let me leave Mike the ex chair, Barry, Ralph and those on the commission that share their opinion of me with the words of noted philosopher Ice-T:

“this goes out to all you haters out there
Actin' like a brother done did somethin' wrong
cause he got his game tight
Don't hate the player, hate the game”

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


OK so this one might be a little inside baseball (hell the whole blog is written for the 20 people that care about integrity compliance in NY so doing an entry for the 5 people at the commission who care is only 25% self-indulgent).

On the 3rd floor of the PIC offices there are two doors you can use to enter the commission (you need a special super secret card to get in and they monitor who goes where and when trust me it took forever to hack into their security system) RELAX all you 2nd floor trolls I really don’t have one . . .yet.

Anyway one door is the “main door” but the second door is a shortcut staffers can use to get to the IT department or the lunch room. With the added benefit of not having to go by the prairie dogger compound (these are the employees who monitor everyone’s location at all times sort of a gps for busybodies).

Lo and behold a sign recently appeared on the outside of the door (the side the public or staff would use). The sign said only use this door for emergencies. HUH what kind of emergency could it be where you need to get into the commission? That is one of the all-time great questions related to the commission so good I may have to ask it at the commission meeting tomorrow. I’ve got others though like:

1. It’s been 2 months and the chair has not answered what he termed the simple question of did the commission change the way it calculates due dates will he ever answer?
2. Is the chairman embarrassed by not having answered this question?
3. Do any of the commissioners know the answer to the simple question?
4. Why do they have a question and answer session when they don’t answer questions?
5. Have they failed to answer the question because a yes answer (which it is) means they would owe a lot of money in refunds?
6. Did Ralph change commission policy related to this question without approval of the commission?
7. If so when?
8. Did Barry know what Ralph was doing related to this change in policy?
9. Did commission staff in programs tell Ralph he was wrong about changing due dates?
10. How many times was Ralph told?
11. How many times was Ralph told in writing?
12. Has the commission reviewed my complaint about Mr. Miccio and Mr. Ginsburg’s actions?
13. Did they investigate my complaint more fully than the complaint the DA made about disgraced ex executive director Teitelbaum?
14. Which commissioner was put in charge of writing my lifetime bar opinion?
15. Did the chair assign staff to write it even though I have a complaint pending against Miccio and Ginsburg?
16. How many commissioners have violated the lifetime bar as Ralph has interpreted it?
17. Did disgraced ex governor Spitzer violate the lifetime bar as Ralph has interpreted it?
18. Did any former executive director of the ethics commission violate the lifetime bar as Ralph has interpreted it?
19. Does the commission know that former Chairman Feerick discussed with me what I could and could not do after leaving the lobby commission?
20. Does the commission know that former Chairman Feerick recommended me as a consultant to some of the companies where he sat on the board of directors?
21. Would that be relevant to the issue of a lifetime bar as Ralph has interpreted it?
22. Do the commission members know that Ralph allowed me to represent a client on late fees 8 months ago and actually waived some of those fees without notifying me of a potential lifetime bar issue as Ralph has now interpreted it?
23. Would that be relevant to the issue of a lifetime bar as Ralph is now interpreting it?
24. Do the individual commissioners have liability for the actions of the staff if they knew or should have known (that language I stole from you Ralph) that said actions were beyond the statutory authority of the staff members?
25. And lastly why would they allow one staff member who doesn’t like people walking behind her put the emergency entrance sign up?

When you let a staffers personal desires or vengeful behavior exist and don’t nip it in the bud it infects the entire office. If it was me I would use the emergency entrance even when I didn’t need to. I might even put my own sign up “WELCOME please use this door anytime”

That way everyone could benefit kind of like what I’m doing with the blog and the commission’s approach to late fees.

Thursday, October 7, 2010


Call it good timing or the power of the blog or God has a sense of humor whatever the reason I picked up a new client that had received a letter from the PIC for failure to amend their registration after they extended their contract with their client.

Yup a case directly on point to yesterdays blog.

So I called the commission to speak with the program person who signed the letter. After explaining that I was an attorney representing my client, that’s right Ralph I did it with full knowledge that you probably think this issue is covered by the lifetime bar as well since the lobby act was amended while I was Executive Director of the Lobby Commission, in other words Ralph no need for another opinion you want to stop taking punches with your arms tied behind your back bring a case on these facts for a lifetime bar violation lets see who wins that one. Anyway I asked the program person where they found the statutory authority to require a registration amendment for a contract extension with no new written agreement (precisely the point I made in yesterdays blog). The answer – “I don’t care I’m just doing what I’m told”. Wow what has happened to the old lobby commission employees? Back in the day that kind of attitude was not tolerated and certainly not encouraged. I know this person and it is out of character for them to act this way, has morale fallen that far? Time to take them all apple picking again Barry cause the free coffee at Mug Shots isn’t getting the job done.

Anyway I didn’t have the heart to torture a broken employee so I will just send a letter documenting my client’s position and ask that they forward it to counsel so that Ralph can either ignore it or threaten me again with a bogus interpretation of the lifetime bar. Either way my client will not be paying a late fee without a court issuing a decision that the commission has the authority to impose one. By the way where would the commission find the authority to impose a civil penalty if a filer did not amend their registration to extend the term? Look long and hard at that one Ralph cause that‘s another one worth fighting about.

And lastly keep up the good work on these letters the more you write the more clients I get. The more clients I get the more likely I am to hire the few good motivated employees the commission has left. It’s a win win all the way around.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010


I got a couple of emails from some clients who received the PIC’s newsletter (2nd installment). The comments were the same. Are you serious? This is what our tax dollars pay for? Telling us to hit the print button to print our reports?

Yup that’s about all you can expect from the gang that just doesn’t seem to have a clue how they are perceived by the lobbying public.

So in the spirit of giving something back to the industry that has given me so much I’m going to publish my tip on late fees and the commission.

As I’ve blogged before the commission does not have a legal basis to impose late fees on registration amendments. Don’t believe me ask special counsel Ralph if they have ever imposed a late fee on a termination that was not submitted within the 30 days as required by the statute. The answer if Ralph decides to tell the truth will be no, nope, never the commission has never done it. WHY? Because the statute does not provide for it. What’s the difference between late fees for registration amendments and terminations? None as far as I can tell. Neither is authorized in statute.

But it gets better. In preparation for the fight I am looking forward to having with the commission over lifetime bar threats and the late fees I am representing clients on I took a close look at Ralph’s late fee letters and the statute. Here’s what I found:

Ralphs late fee letters for registration amendments state “Any amendment to the information filed by a lobbyist in the original statement of registration must be submitted to the Commission within ten days after such amended information is known or should have been known by the filer (Section 1-e(d)).(emphasis added)

Where does Ralph find that language in the statute? He doesn’t he made it up its what he wants it to say not what it actually says. Far be it for me to say Ralph is a sloppy lawyer. I’ll let anyone who has dealt with him draw their own conclusions but if I got a late fee for a registration amendment I would not pay it and ask the AG to show you where the authorization comes from and while you’re at it ask them if they know where Ralph found the language in his letter.

And one more thing since most of the late fees on registration amendments are the result of contract extensions that are filed more than 10 days after the start of the extension think about this you didn’t need to amend your registration at all for a contract extension. You are already registered for the biannual term and the statute only requires an amendment to the information in the registration. There are seven pieces of information required to be in the registration by statute and the term of the contract IS NOT ONE OF THEM. If you extend the term you have not amended the information in the registration therefore the statute does not require an amendment.
To recap:
1. You are not required by statute to amend your registration for a contract extension.
2. Amendments are not required with 10 days of when you should have known of them as the oracle of Broadway (Ralph) states but rather within 10 days of the actual amendment.
3. You cannot be issued a late fee for registration amendments or terminations because the statute does not authorize it.
4. The statute does not authorize it because your registration remains in effect for the biannual period unless YOU terminate it. It is not terminated by the terms of your contract and the commission will never terminate it for you they don’t have that power. And before the special counsel says you can’t lobby without a contract. I would ask where in the statute does it say that you need a contract to lobby? All it says is that you need to attach a written contract if you have one to your registration if you don’t then you have to attach an authorization to you registration. There is no prohibition against lobbying without a contract just a penalty for failure to timely register.

Sorry Ralph I know it’s not what you think it should be but it is what the statute says.

As an aside Ralph as I told you when I was your boss at the lobby commission (and hiring you has turned into the old adage no good turn goes unpunished) stop trying to tell the lobbying industry how to run their business and focus on the lobby law. If you had been any good at the business end you would still be in private practice not hanging out at 677 Prime and The Old Dailey in on your state lunch half hour. Go easy on the libations people notice.

Hope those of you in the business found these tips more helpful than the press print advice the commission gave you. See you all at the commission meeting next week.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010


Anybody watch Spitzer’s new show last night? Didn’t think so since the only thing less appealing than watching Elliot try to rehab his image is doing so with the visual of him and a hooker playing in your mind at the same time.

Anyway I did watch the snippet posted on the DN blog of Elliot and Henry Blodgett and I hope the crack team of investigators at PIC did as well because right there on national television is an example of special counsel Ralph’s new interpretation of the lifetime bar.

Elliot has a segment called “unfinished business” where he interviews people he persecuted oops prostituted oops prosecuted in his past. He revisits cases from his time as AG (and I would imagine governor as the show progresses). I actually might watch the steamroller interview some of his former opponents. It was hilarious to see him brag about how he got the bad guy for misleading investors then turn around and praise him for now having a web site that advises investors. Hypocrisy thy name is Elliot. Spitzer would be perfect on the PIC.

Now under special counsel Ralph’s expanded and totally inaccurate version of the lifetime bar Elliot would be subject to a $40,000 fine for receiving compensation for communicating about a case in which he personally participated while in public service.

Ridiculous right?

That was never what the lifetime bar was intended to prohibit. If special counsel Ralph is right in his expanded view of the lifetime bar Elliot and I are not the only ones in danger of violating it. Commissioner’s Celli and Peters both worked for Elliot at the AG’s office, better check your cases make sure you have not represented a client on any matter involving a law or program instituted while you worked for the AG (stop and frisk perhaps). I could go on and on with well known former public officials that would have violated special counsel Ralph’s new lifetime bar but I’m now actually looking forward to the opinion Barry has told me is forthcoming from the commission. It’s going to apply to all of us and I’m thinking the perfect person to represent all of the former state workers damaged by this forthcoming opinion would be former Ethics Executive Director Karl Sleight the only problem? Karl would be barred from ever representing anyone related to the lifetime bar since he was Executive Director when many of the old opinions on the subject where issued. Now since I know Karl has represented folks before the PIC that must mean that special counsel Ralph’s lifetime bar only applies to me. I’m honored.

Oh by the way I want to correct something I wrote in a previous blog. I said that there was only one case left from my time at the Lobby Commission. That case was Abbrussezze but I remembered their might be another we had an open investigation into the SUNY Research Foundation and I honestly don’t remember if it was closed. Anyway I don’t represent anyone associated with that entity so it shouldn’t be an issue for Ralph, yet.

Speaking of unfinished business Mr. Cherkasky it’s going to be two months next Thursday and still no answer to what you called the simple question of did the commission change the way it calculates due dates. Please don’t use that tired old excuse of being understaffed when I ask the question again. It’s never too late to take a step in the right direction, anytime you want to meet and talk about all this I’m ready willing and able I’ll even buy lunch it won’t be the first time a chairman of PIC ate lunch on my AmEx card.

Friday, October 1, 2010

What can PIC learn from Paladino? Or How I learned to love the bomb

Well that didn’t take long. The most recent Paladino explosion could serve as a useful learning tool to the Public Integrity Commission if only they could get their collective heads out of their collective rear ends. Or in special counsel ralph’s case if he was in town instead of on vacation again (track season, Florida, ralph is a man of leisure, how does he find the time to screw up so many different issues?).

But I digress, what could the PIC learn from Paladino you ask? As Abraham Lincoln said “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than speak out and remove all doubt”.
Much as Paladino is being defined by his actions as an out of control madman (am I the only one that can see him as the Slim Pickens character in the Stanley Kubrick classic Dr. Strangelove – picture the campaign ad Paladino in a cowboy hat riding a nuclear bomb to its target with the tag line “How mad are you Carl?”) the PIC is being defined by its actions as a poorly managed vindictive incompetent leftover from the bad old spitzer days.

Paladino makes wild accusations about Cuomo’s infidelity and then when asked if he has proof goes ballistic (I think Fred could handle Paladino and Caputo I’m not sure about the bodyguard though that dude was huge) and follows that up with the standard schoolyard response of I have the proof and will show it at the appropriate time. By the way I’ve never met anyone who says that and actually has the proof.

Miccio makes a wild accusation that I may be violating the lifetime bar by representing a client who received a late fee imposed illegally by Miccio and then when I try to play by the PIC’s rules and ask for an opinion upon Ginsberg’s guarantee that they will not try to collect the late fee from my client Miccio goes ballistic and contacts my client directly to collect the late fee (and yes I’m pretty sure I can handle Miccio, Ginsberg and any other goons they have on the payroll in a legal fight of course although I guarantee it will look like a street fight LOL).

But here’s the lesson Paladino can teach Mike the chair and the PIC – Paladino once he calmed down and had a chance to think about what he did and why he did it admitted he had no proof of Cuomo’s extracurricular activity. That’s a step in the right direction.

If Mike the chair tells me that Ralph had no basis for his unsubstantiated allegation of a lifetime bar (one by the way that would apply to every former state employee high and low including 4 members of the commission and former executive directors Rivkin, Sleight and Teitelbaum) he would be taking a step in the right direction.

And here’s the lesson PIC can teach Paladino. You pay for the actions of those you employ to run your operation. Surround yourself with incompetent, bungling and in some cases corrupt employees and it reflects upon the guy at the top. Any doubt? Go ask John Feerick the former chairman of PIC until Teitelbaum ruined his reputation.

And Mike I still have not received an answer to the simple question of has the commission changed the way it calculates due dates. It almost two months another commission meeting is coming up in a couple of weeks don’t let Miccio and Ginsberg buckle the seatbelt on that nuclear bomb you are riding If you have seen the movie it’s a fun ride till the bomb goes off.