Monday, February 28, 2011


I’ve received a flurry of letters from the guardian of public ethics in the last two days. So rather than write three separate blog entries I’m going to do more with less and put all three in one blog entry. This blog will contain a new name that dope, a Barry “informal opinion” and the latest example of the commission making a mistake that they will expect everyone to understand but if the lobbying community did it special counsel ralf would impose one of his unconstitutional non-authorized by statute late fees.

I got a letter from this dope stating that “A matter has come to the attention of the Commission on Public Integrity(‘Commission”) involving the name of one of my clients which is different from the matter currently before the Commission in which you represent the name of one of my clients. Please advise whether you will be representing the name of one of my clients in this matter as well.”
Which dope wrote that gem? I know the dopes at the commission think I am all powerful (and really from their perspective can you blame them LOL) but I do not possess a crystal ball and have no clue what the dope is talking about since I am not fluent in dope.
Here are some hints:
This dope is the boss of a previous dope.
This dope supervises someone whose head looks like a crystal ball.
This dope travels with a good luck charm in the form of a wooden Indian
Give up? It’s the commission’s own Inspector Clouseau Chief Investigator Robert J. Shea. Good work Bobby how many brain cells did you use up putting pen to paper to write that example of “duhhhh”? And this is the careful precise work of a trained investigator? No wonder they showed a blind governor a check and asked if it was his signature. I am afraid Bobby I need a little more information to answer your question maybe you can get Clark and the wooden Indian to help you write the follow-up.
Second I got another “informal opinion” from Barry the only problem? I never asked him for one because there is no such thing as an “informal opinion” so why would I bother. I asked for a commission advisory opinion pursuant to statute (that make 7 I’m waiting for now) on the gift ban. I’m sensing a split amongst the commissioners on how they interpret the gift ban so getting an advisory opinion might provide more clarity then the last 8 discussions they’ve had on the subject at commission meetings. Anyway I reminded Barry that I could care less what he thinks and will now forward my request directly to the chair so that she can see just how much he doesn’t share with her. But in reading Barry’s analysis I was shocked to learn that “An actual intent to influence is not required for there to be a violation of the gift ban.” WOW all the commission needs is to believe is the following “an inference of intent to influence such public official is one among any inferences and such inference is not unreasonable under the circumstances” HOLY SH*T All Barry needs now is to convince himself that the inference he draws from that mess he calls a brain is not unreasonable to him and you are guilty of a misdemeanor. A show of hands who thinks Barry Ginsberg should be the conscience of Albany? Remember this is the same Barry Ginsberg that the IG said helped disgraced ex executive Director Herb Teitelbaum cover-up his role in leaking information to the target of an investigation. The same Barry Ginsberg whose wife is a lobbyist. The same Barry Ginsberg that decided Commissioner Alonso’s law firm did not give a gift of his services to the New York State Senate based on the fact Barry thought that that inference was unreasonable. The same Barry Ginsberg that is handling the Jeff Sachs investigation once someone tells him what to do. You know what Barry? I want to see the commissioners put in writing that offering something of value to the spouse of a public official when the offeror (lobbyist) has no matters before the public official, could lead anyone to the reasonable inference of an intent to influence such public official. Only in Patrick the starfish’s world of bikini bottom does that make sense Patrick oops I mean Barry.
Third I got two letters from the commission today one was about one of my clients that made a mistake and registered a client in error but the second envelope although addressed to me contained a letter for a lobbyist and client that I have no connection to. Hey mistakes happen but if you’ve ever been on the wrong side of a special counsel ralf rant that he will not waive a late fee because you or your client made a mistake you can appreciate how much I am going to enjoy not telling them which letter they mailed warning of a failure to register was not received. If you get fined by the commission and they never sent you a warning letter get in touch I may have your golden ticket. To the commission employees that write letters be nice it could be your signature on that letter.

I’ve gotta admit that was my first threesome and it felt so good I’m sure I’m gonna do it again sometime soon. All I need is a little help from my friends at the commission.

Sunday, February 27, 2011


In the middle of an attempt to get “ethics reform” (can someone please define that for me because as far as I am concerned getting rid of the public integrity commission or at a minimum its top staff is ethics reform) the New York Times writes an editorial that puts them in the same boat as the goo goos. Well meaning, working hard but in the end missing the point.

After following up Times Union reporter Jim Odato’s work on Jeff Sachs the Times has uncovered specific acts that if true raise very troubling issues for Mr. Sachs and numerous members of the Cuomo administration. And depending how the Governor handles the scandal perhaps the Governor himself (does anyone remember “troopergate”). And that brings us right back to the failure of the public integrity commission to be an honest cop on the beat. I don’t know if the allegations in the newspapers are true or accurate. Nor do I know if Mr. Sach’s statements explaining his actions are true or accurate. We don’t know what the administration’s staffers are going to say about their involvement and if it will be true or accurate.

Here’s what we do know. Barry Ginsberg the public integrity executive director (yes the same one the inspector general said helped impede the investigation into disgraced former executive director Herb Teitelbaum role in troopergate) will be the one to answer those questions and he knew three weeks ago about Mr. Sach’s activity. What has he done with that information? Who has he spoken with?

Has he already spoken with the targets of any investigation he might undertake?
Has he taken direction from folks outside the commission?
Has he briefed his commissioners on the issues to give them an opportunity to provide him direction?
Or is he paralyzed and afraid to take any action until he knows what effect it will have on his future tenure.
Or maybe he will take a page out of his Yankee ticket playbook and wait for the legislature to pass an ethics bill, if it affects him he could always ramp up the investigation take testimony from the governor and his staff and see if that ace up his sleeve will get him another veto.

Unfortunately the questions above would never need to be asked if we had faith in Barry or the commission to do the right thing and perform a professional unbiased investigation without outside influence and keep the public and media apprised of what they discover. But as troopergate has shown us that is too much to ask from the cockroaches at the commission. I wonder which commission staffer will be sacrificed this time? (Does anyone remember the commission lawyer that testified to the IG about “troopergate”?)

So with Barry holding the key to the answers as to what really is going on with Jeff Sach’s and his connections what does the New York Times editorial say is the answer? Here it is:

“Governor Cuomo has a larger obligation. As he pushes for ethics reform, he should call for a tougher lobbying law — one without loopholes.”
Here we go again we need ethics reform that gets us honest cops in the form of an integrity agency we can trust and the editorial board wants to change the law to one without loopholes.
Let me say it loud and clear
And until people realize that we will continue to have ethical scandals because one person’s self dealing is another person’s trusted friend.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011


Big New York Times story today about the governor’s friend and whether he should have been registered as a lobbyist.

It’s a pretty straight forward issue and on the facts available in the story an easy question to answer. But count on the cockroaches at the Public Integrity Commission to touch it and make it something no one wants to go near. And this was the easy question.

They had three weeks to think about it since Jim Odato and the Times Union wrote about it January 31.

They had a commission meeting where Barry could have briefed the entire commission between gorging himself on that catered lunch.

They could have answered the question without upsetting this governor because it happened BEFORE January first, which makes it a Patterson problem.

But Barry refused to go on television and discuss it even though he initially said he would. (Do you think he changed his mind after finding out I would be on the live interview with him? Or did he get orders from on high to keep his mouth shut?) Either way it makes you and the commission look bad, Barry.

Please please please tell me you briefed your chairwoman today when you saw the Times story. You could have explained all the above as you just being a good new york lawyer. But if you didn’t brief the Chair today Barry you got a lot of explaining to do. Are you just incompetent? Was it because you don’t like reporting to a woman? Where you waiting for direction from the commissioner’s you are beholding too?

There is no good answer if you didn’t call your chair first thing today and bring her up to speed on an issue that will test the new administration’s ethical mettle. It’s your troopergate Barry and we all know what a bad job you and Herb did on that one. Do you think your Chair will handle this one better than Feerick did troopergate? Only if she is kept informed on a timely basis.

And that’s what you should thank me for I did your job for you already. I only wished Feerick had been as interested in doing the right thing as Ms. Hormozi is.

If I was you Barry I’d come up with some answers in a hurry, but don’t worry Barry no thank you is necessary.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011


Following up on yesterday’s news about Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos’s ties to a law firm with clients that do business with New York (seems like a remake of Casablanca – gambling in this establishment? I am shocked) today the New York Daily News has a story that former PIC commissioner Dan Alonso’s law firm charged the New York State Senate (in the democrats control at the time) $376,000 to provide legal work in getting rid of Hiram Montserrate. Now I don’t know which is more shocking that it took that much effort to get rid of Montserrate or that no one has a problem with the senate employing a member of the Public Integrity Commission. The same commission that would be charged with investigating gifts to members of the senate. I can see the executive session now between gorging themselves on a catered lunch they unanimously state “A gift to a senator I am shocked”. I did ask the commission to investigate Alonso doing his legal work for free (seemed to me a lobbyist like his law firm should not be doing work for a public official for free – that is a gift) but of course Barry “my wife is a lobbyist” Ginsberg saw no gift. Can’t you hear the piano playing in the background?

So as long as we are talking about PIC and conflicts here is the list I know of I’m sure I’m missing some.

1. Barry Ginsberg (executive director) married to a registered lobbyist –don’t we all wish we could get the same treatment as Mrs. Ginsberg?
2. Herb Teitelbaum (disgraced ex executive director) married to a client of a lobbyist
3. John Feerick (disgraced ex chairman) serves on the Board of Directors of two clients of lobbyists.
4. Michael Cherkasky (ex chairman) god only knows how many conflicts he won’t tell us but he had to resign he had so many.
5. Howard Levine (commissioner) senior counsel to a registered lobbyist (law firm)
6. John Brickman (commissioner) serves on the Board of Directors of two clients of lobbyists.
7. Joseph Spinelli (former commissioner) worked for a client of a registered lobbyist
8. Dan French (former commissioner) was a registered lobbyist
9. Dan Alonso (former commissioner) employed by a registered lobbyist
10. Mark Peters (commissioner) employed by a lobbyist law firm, stay tuned I’ve got more on this one
11. Christine Kopec (hearing officer) employed by the client of a registered lobbyist
12. Ralph Miccio (special counsel) owns a horse regulated by NYRA a client of a registered lobbyist.

That’s quite a large card game for such a small gin joint.

By the way all of the foregoing is available on the financial disclosure reports and lobbyist filings database. Remember look but don’t touch

Monday, February 21, 2011


Newsweek is out with a piece detailing all of Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos’s Law Firms clients with state business. Now the question is what will anyone do with the information? And this is where the goo-goos and editorial boards miss the point. Would a law that required the disclosure of the same information Newsday just published be helpful? I’m pretty sure if Newsday could get the information anyone else that put a little effort in could as well. This data is not the nuclear launch codes. A law that required the disclosure of information does make it easier for John Q. Citizen to have access to the data but just as I wrote about the governor’s girlfriend and those that want disclosure of her financial relationships at some point you have to stop being an integrity peeping tom and clean up the red light district.

Here’s an idea the Public Officer’s Law already has revolving door restrictions for AFTER you leave state service lets start applying them while folks are still IN state service. All it would take is holding the public official’s employer (law firm, bank, Association etc) responsible for employing an individual who still works for the State. If the employer would be barred from state work or receiving the benefit of the public employee’s knowledge I’m pretty sure most of them would choose NOT TO employ the public official.

Prohibiting the employer from doing business with the state if they benefit from the public officials position would stop the perceived violation of the Public Officers Law.

Then the goo-goos and the editorial boards could move on from the guilty pleasure of peeking thru the windows of the strip club that is Albany and focus on getting a cop on the beat that will actually arrest the hookers and the johns in the strip club and leave the strippers alone.

I never understood what value there was in looking if you couldn’t touch. I’ll leave the ethical voyeurism to those that derive pleasure from just watching.

Thursday, February 17, 2011


The guardians of public ethics have placed framed copies of the cartoon below on their desks at the Public Integrity Commission

Let’s count all the ways this tacky trailer park juvenile display of small private parts reflects on the agency that commission executive director Barry Ginsberg has said is doing an effective job as the states ethics watchdog after getting their sea legs.


The Public Officers Law that they claim to be enforcing says in section 74 – h that:

“An officer or employee of a state agency, member of the legislature or legislative employee should endeavor to pursue a course of conduct which will not raise suspicion among the public that he is likely to be engaged in acts that are in violation of his trust.”

Now I’m sure Barry and his minions will say that the framed cartoons are their for esprit de corps or some such bs but lets ask the ex-gov if he thinks he got a fair shake from this bunch of dedicated unbiased public servants.

Second - Barry said in a recent interview that the appearance of impropriety is as important as the act itself. I couldn’t agree more, the act of investigating the governor when that same governor was contemplating a bill to eliminate the commission raised many troubling questions. Now bragging about it in such a juvenile fashion leaves no doubt about the appearance of impropriety, it’s unseemly, unprofessional and smacks of bias. I doubt even the Klan would have kept a cartoon of one of their lynching’s and have no doubt what the commission did to Governor Patterson was an ethical lynching pure and simple.

Lastly – lets have the IG investigate who paid for the copies of the cartoon and the frames they where placed in. If any state resources where used including staff time I think the commission should terminate those employees involved.

I wonder if they framed any cartoons of disgraced ex governor Spitzer in bed with a whore with his socks on? Cause that’s some funny sh*t. Or any cartoons of disgraced ex executive director Herb Teitelbaum when his state car hit that deer ON A SUNDAY. Or a cartoon of Herb whispering to Spitzers minions about troopergate.

I don’t know about anyone else but the longer Governor Cuomo allows people that would keep cartoons of an ethical lynching to keep the state’s rope in their hands the more troubled I become. It’s pretty easy to imagine what they would do to me if they got the chance of course you better bring some friends Barry I intend to put up a fight and that rope swings both ways.

Oh yea the dope is Barry Ginsburg for not realizing the message these cartoons send to the public that rightfully doesn’t trust him or his commission.

Wanna bet the cartoons disappear before any reporter can get a look at them? Don’t worry I got an anonymous package again with a picture of the cartoon on the desk of one of the cockroaches. If you are so proud of them don’t put them away let the world get a glimpse of how unsuited to the job you all are.

By the way I promise when you resign Barry I won’t frame a cartoon of you heading down the road. I didn’t do it with Herb or Feerick or Cherkasky and I won’t do it with you. But I will enjoy your departure as much as I did theirs, because I’m nothing if not fair.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011


I just listened to self proclaimed New York City Lawyer Barry Ginsberg be interviewed on Susan Arbetter’s capitol pressroom. If you like listening to a pompous arrogant angry New York City lawyer argue with the host using mono syllable responses to softball questions then the final half hour is the show for you. If you want to hear the state of integrity in New York just listen to the first 15 minutes while Blair Horner is on.

I was amazed how combative Barry was to questions that did not require any kind of defensive response. This is one angry dude. I’m beginning to think he may have a problem with women questioning him. Not a good trait for an executive director whose chairperson is a woman.

What did he have to be angry about?

Susan didn’t ask him to explain the conflict that he has with his wife being a lobbyist and how the commission treated her filings.

Susan didn’t ask him to explain how commission member John Brickman has a conflict as a result of serving on the boards of not one but two companies that are regulated by the commission.

Susan didn’t ask him to explain how commission member Howard Levine has a conflict by serving as of counsel to a law firm that is a registered lobbyist and therefore regulated by the commission.

Susan didn’t ask him to explain the timing of his Yankee ticket investigation and how with the future of the commission on Governor Patterson’s desk he ramped up an investigation into the governor that had lain dormant for 3 months.

Susan didn’t ask him to explain why commission staff have framed cartoons on their desks making fun of ex Governor Patterson having to pay the commission a $62k fine It’s a pretty good example of the kind of impartial professional staff effort we’ve come to expect from the commission staff (by the way if that’s what you consider a trophy you need a large dose of confidence just to get to normal) My guess is Barry had his lunch money stolen as a kid on a regular basis, probably by a girl.

Susan didn’t ask him to explain why they showed a blind governor a check and asked him if it was his signature (good luck making a perjury case on that)

Susan didn’t ask him to explain why the Inspector General’s report noted his attempts to inhibit their investigation of Herb Teitelbaum. Barry made sure to note that he didn’t work for the commission when Herb leaked the information to the Spitzer minions which is technically true but he was involved with the ensuing cover-up up to his eyeballs.

Susan didn’t ask him to explain how the esteemed John Feerick ignored the Albany County District Attorneys complaint regarding Herb Teitelbaum a complaint that the Inspector General validated in its report. Barry even said he still thinks the commission did nothing wrong. And that alone is enough reason for the new chair to terminate Barry if she ever wants the public to have any faith in this commission. The new chair is very familiar with dirty cops and the mafia, now I’m not saying Barry is a dirty cop and the spitzer folks were the mafia but you get my point.

Susan didn’t ask him to explain why he lets disgraced former executive director Herb Teitelbaum continue to visit the private commission offices while everyone else must remain in the reception area. By the way Barry why don’t you ask your buddy Herb to go to lunch with you and the new chair give her a real good look at your mentor and how it still effects your management decisions.

Susan didn’t ask him to explain how they can fine lobbyists and clients under the gift ban when they refuse to provide opinions about the application of the law and after yesterday’s meeting it is painfully obvious the majority of these New York lawyers on the commission would have a hard time passing a class in the Lobby Law yet have no problem imposing their personal ethics beliefs on the lobbying community no matter what the law says (see “TROUBLED” on the blog).

But my favorite Barry BS comes at the 37:00 minute mark where he states that public confidence in integrity is low because the public isn’t involved enough. Really it’s the publics fault that the commission is so secretive they refuse to tell the public what they are doing, they exempt themselves from the FOI law and flaunt the open meetings law by going into executive session but never disclosing what they do while in executive session (other than gorge themselves on a catered lunch).

And Susan didn’t ask him to explain if the commission had changed the way they calculate due dates for registrations (I’ve been waiting 8 months for an answer to that question)

Can you imagine how mad the new york city lawyer would be if he had to answer those questions.

And that’s the face of Andrew Cuomo’s integrity agency.

Barry you need to resign if this commission has any hope of a rebirth.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011


That sure was the theme of the commission’s meeting today.

It started with commissioner Peters (the Celli protégé) who was troubled that lobbyists could buy a table at a black tie charity event at the Waldorf Astoria and invite legislators to attend as their guests. No doubt he looked troubled. The thought of a lobbyist buying a table at a charity event seemed to stick in his craw. I wonder if he was as troubled when Spitzer used the state plane to Go to Washington D.C. and bump uglies with the whore? The PIC never bothered to investigate that misuse of state resources even though they published an opinion directly on point regarding usage of the state plane.

When a commission employee explained to Peters that the exception for charitable events was found in statute and further discussed in commission opinion 08-01 he was troubled that the opinion may have “unwittingly” applied the statutory exception to the Public Officer’s Law where it is not found (I’ll save you the 15 minutes of boring dialogue that ensued as all these lawyers tried to interpret the statute on the fly). To Barry’s credit he stood up for Teitelbaum and Feerick and the rest of the commissioners that had unanimously approved opinion 08-01 and said that the opinion was not written unwittingly they intended to be that foolish (my translation).

Anyway the commission then troubled all of us in the audience as for at least the tenth time they had an argument over the gift ban, what it means and what they wished the statute said. The troubling part with that?


You know what else is troubling?


You know what else is troubling?


You know what else is troubling?


And for what its worth would Peters be troubled by allowing lobbyists to invite legislators to a charity event that he thought was worthwhile something like the “Bring Spitzer Back to Albany fundraiser” Limousine liberals do as we say not as we do.

I couldn’t stay for the whole meeting as I am troubled that every meeting is the same, same discussions, same lack of clarity and resolution and the same cast of cockroaches that just keep on surviving and at the end of the day that’s two hours you can never get back its a troubling waste of time.

If I was Gov. Cuomo I’d be troubled that I now am responsible for this cluster f*** passing itself off as the conscience of Albany.

There is enough trouble to start a good blues band.

Thursday, February 10, 2011


No question last year Susan Lerner of Common Cause played a major role in providing cover for Governor Patterson to veto Speaker Silver’s ethics bill which had almost unanimous support in both houses (before Senator Skelos and the republicans in the senate became against it after they were for it). The end result was we were stuck with the Public Integrity Commission for another year and you know how well that worked out for the State of New York.

Now just when it looks like we get a second bite of the apple and one more try to rid ourselves of the folks at PIC here come the goo goo’s again claiming we should have financial disclosure from the Governor’s girlfriend (whatever that term means). Talk about taking your eye off the ball. Now I can appreciate ethical voyeurism as much as the next guy but come on PIC hasn’t done the basic job of policing the actual disclosures of public officials much less their spouses and/or girlfriends. Does anyone remember Joe Bruno or Pedro Espada or Vincent Leibell or Alan Hevesi or Efrain Gonzalez or Tony Seminerio or Brian Mclaughlin or Antonio Novello the list goes on and on. Those cases were not prosecuted because New York’s ethics agencies utilized the disclosure now required by law. If the Public Integrity Agency can’t use the disclosure laws it presently has to prosecute our corrupt public officials what makes anyone think they are going to do a better job if the public official’s girlfriends, nieces, nephews, neighbors, golfing buddies, friends or donors have to disclose their financial records.

I’ll give you an example take a look at our former lieutenant governor’s disclosure report. If anyone bothered to look he had extensive securities holdings that he was buying and selling while in office, anyone want to bet if PIC was aware of it and if they were would they have looked into it to see if it resulted in conflicts.

Here’s another example if you want to talk about spouses, the PIC executive director’s spouse disclosed that her spouse’s agency had jurisdiction over her the year before she registered as a lobbyist if you read this blog you know how aggressive the PIC was with that disclosure.

It’s not the tools that make the artist. It’s time the goo goo’s learned that and brought the focus back to getting an ethics bill that results in the extinction of the PIC. I’m not sure that what comes next will be better but I’m positive it can’t be worse unless Feerick, Cherkasky and Teitelbaum come back to help Ginsburg ruin Ms. Hormozi’s and Mr. Cuomo’s reputations.

Speaking of the new Chairwomen her first meeting is this coming Tuesday and the agenda is up on the PIC website. A couple of changes, first the meeting is starting later at 11:30 could it be they are going to wrap up and then have lunch so we don’t all have to wait for the ritual gorging that occurred under Cherkasky? Second no Q & A at the conclusion of the meeting. If nothing else Mitra is politically smarter that the ex-chair, just like this gov is politically smarter than the ex-gov. I can’t lie it’s a disappointment and will certainly make it tougher to point out how bad PIC is but I like a challenge and can appreciate the quality of the opponent.
Since I can’t ask at the meeting I’ll just send Mitra a written request for an answer to the question the ex-chair ducked for 7 months – Did the commission change the way it calculates due dates? It’s amazing but they have never disclosed the fact that they have. Only a guilty man needs to hide the truth you would think the guardians of public ethics would know that. If you can’t get Ralf and Barry to tell you the truth Mitra just ask me I’ll show you Ralf’s internal email.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011


I have a new game for the blog. I will post a quote from an employee or commissioner at the Public Integrity Commission and you try to name the dope.
And before the PIC minions start mouthing off about the blogs typos and grammar miscues I do that stuff on purpose.

Here is the first one:

“Verification could include invoices for services provided for the calendar years 2008 through 2010 and/or a formal breakdown of the said services that would attribute a cost for each activity indentified in the agreements.”

And for the record identified only has one “n”.
I’ll even provide hints

Hint 1:
This employee once tried to interview for a job at a lobbying firm
(Wilson, Elser) while he was auditing reports from that same firm.

Hint 2:

This employee’s greatest talent is in carrying the chairman’s resignation

Hint 3:

I can’t wait to put him/her on the stand at a hearing associated with the
case regarding the above referenced quote.

Hint 4:

Answer: The PIC’s own mall cop Scott Clark