Friday, August 23, 2013

If Dick "dummy" Dadey traded his integrity to the governor for financial support would it be a reportable business relationship?

No surprise Dick "dummy" Dadey clarified his position on the "Milgram" rule today.

I'm sure he got the same phone call Milgram did.

And I'm sure the rest of the JJOKE posse that lack the ability to have an independent position that differs from what the 2nd floor demands are frustrated today that the media thinks the "Milgram" rule was created to shelter the Duffy house purchase from criticism.

And while I think my last blog clearly established how wrong the "Milgran" rule was, afterall it was in direct contradiction to JJOKE's own guidelines, FAQs, training materials and Ellen Bibens public statements, let me provide some additional examples that according to JJOKE and Dick "dummy" Dadey would not be required to be disclosed as reportable business relationships under the "Milgram" rule.  Remember these are hypotheticals to the best of my knowledge.

Dick "dummy" Dadey promises to provide Governor Cuomo a case of rare spark plugs for the governors old car in return for the Governor paying $5000. The spark plugs are not available to the general public at any price.

Dick "dummy" Dadey promises to provide Governor Cuomo the use of his luxury vacation home in return for the Governor paying $5000. The home is not available to the general public at any price.

Dick "dummy" Dadey promises to provide Governor Cuomo ethics compliance consulting in return for the Governor paying $5000. The consulting is not available to the general public at any price.

Dick "dummy" Dadey promises to endorse Governor Cuomo's ethics reform legislation in return for the Governor paying $5000. The endorsement is not available to the general public at any price.

Dick "dummy" Dadey promises to clarify his public statement about the Duffy home purchase in return for the Governor paying $5000. The clarification is not available to the general public at any price.

or how about the following

Dick "dummy" Dadey trades what is left of his integrity to the Governor in return for the Governor's promise of support for Dick's organization.  Wait that would not be reportable because Dick's integrity is worthless.

I think you get the point.  The "Milgram" rule's reliance on the flow of money only going in one direction, from the lobbying entity to the public official, is just wrong.  It's not what the law says, it's not what the JJOKE guidelines say,  it's not what the JJOKE FAQs say,  it's not what the JJOKE training materials say, it's not what Ellen Biben said, it's only what the powers that be want it to say now that the Duffy house deal is being questioned.

And unfortunately the media once again is missing the point.  You need to ask why would Milgram change his quote, why would Dick need to clarify his position, why are the JJOKE commissioners refusing to go on the record to explain the "Milgram" rule.  I think the answer is they were told to use their official position to provide an unwarranted exemption to the reportable business relationship disclosure for the Duffy home purchase.  And that would be a violation of the Public Officers Law.

I'd like to know what Susan Lerner thinks.

I'd like to know what Barbara Bartoletti thinks.

I'd like to know what Russ Havens thinks.

They all had supported the reportable business relationship requirements, is this what they thought it would be?

I'd like to know what the JJOKE commissioners think, do any of them have the guts to explain the "Milgram" rule in public?  in a forum where I can debate them?  I'm ready willing and able anytime anywhere.

This is just one more pathetic example of how controlled JJOKE and the good government phonies are.  Sonny Liston would be proud.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Milgram speaks and removes all doubt

Removes all doubt that JJOKE is an independent competent ethics agency, that is.

The Times Union has a story today about the Lieutenant Governor buying a house from a top executive of an organization that is subject to JJOKE's disclosure guidelines on reportable business relationships.

In that story JJOKE's overpaid and undertalented press flack John Milgram is quoted and provides an opinion on what the rules for reportable business relationship disclosures are (of course the "Milgram" rule exempts the Lieutenant Governors transaction from disclosure)

Putting aside for the moment the value and policy behind requiring these disclosures (I blogged about it in depth last year when JJOKE was promulgating the guidelines and having numerous public discussions and focus groups) I wonder why Milgram is providing opinions on this issue that are wrong.

Here is what Milgram said to the Times Union:

"As a general matter, a reportable business relationship is one in which a lobbyist or client pays compensation to a state official who provides goods or services in return. Not the other way around,"


"The intent of the statute is clear, reportable business relationships are those in which the goods or services are provided by the public official and the public official is compensated for it."

Under the "Milgram" rule a lobbyist or client could provide goods or services to a public official and disclosure would not be required EVEN IF THE GOODS AND SERVICES WERE NOT AVAILABLE TO THE GENERAL PUBLIC.

Just one small problem the "Milgram" rule is directly contradicted by the statute, the JJOKE guidelines and the JJOKE training materials.  Not to mention the numerous public pronouncements made by former JJOKE head Ellen Biben.

Here is what you can find on the JJOKE website about reportable business relationship disclosure, the relationship is required to be reported when:

"a Client pays, gives or promises Compensation to: (a) an individual whom the Client knows or has reason to know is a State Person; ...and

such Compensation is in exchange for goods, services or anything of value either performed or provided the State Person ."

"compensation" is defined as anything of value.  In the Duffy case the client gave Duffy (a state person) a house, clearly something of value and Duffy gave the client, in exchange for the house, money, clearly something of value.

It's not rocket science Milgram

Now if the house had been advertised and for sale to the general public the guidelines do have an exception that would exempt the relationship BUT it was a private sale according to the Times Union.

Here is a clear plain language description from the JJOKE FAQ section that is in direct opposition to the "Milgram" rule:

"In order for an RBR to be created, the goods, services, or anything of value provided by the lobbyist or client must be in exchange for goods, services, or anything of value either performed or provided or intended to be performed or provided by the State Person". 

Substitute house and money for "anything of value" and you can see that it's not rocket science Milgram the FAQ's are clear you are wrong.

Now just in case you are the type of reader that needs to see an example to understand how wrong Milgram is try the following from the JJOKE training material:


A lobbyist gives a State Senator a six-year-term loan for $5,000 at prevailing market rates

The loan offered to the State Senator is not commercially available

The lobbyist knows the individual is a State Person

 Lobbyist must disclose as a Reportable Business Relationship because the $5,000 loan, while at prevailing rates, is not commercially available

Now lets substitute Duffy for State Senator and private house sale for the loan and see if the example is clear enough to prove the "Milgram" rule wrong

A lobbyist gives DUFFY a HOUSE at prevailing market rates

The HOUSE offered to DUFFY is not commercially available (PRIVATE SALE)

The lobbyist knows the individual is a State Person

Lobbyist must disclose as a Reportable Business Relationship because the HOUSE, while at prevailing rates, is not commercially available

It's not rocket science Milgram the training materials are clear you are wrong.

UPDATE: Or listen to Ellen Biben explain why you are wrong Milgram  It's at minute 12:50 thru 13:15  of the August 28,2012 meeting "sweetheart deals"

So it's clear MILGRAM WAS WRONG.  But that's not news he has had a long history of being wrong.  The real question is why did he provide the misinformnation at all?

When first reached by the Times Union for comment Milgran gave his usual no comment, which while proving JJOKE is wasting money on Milgram's salary is just business as usual.

But then he said the statute and guidelines were "self-explanatory" when it came to Duffy's house purchase.  And based on my analysis above I would agree.

Several hours later though Milgram provided the quote you find in the story.

Why would he change his approach and provide an opinion that is so clearly wrong and also beyond his authority to issue?

Maybe the Moreland Commission should investigate, they have already issued litigation hold letters, just find out who told Milgram to issue the false "Milgram" rule.  If he did it on his own he should be fired by close of business today.  If someone told him to do it just follow the trail to see why.

Anytime the press flack becomes the story you need to find out why. That's known in New York Ethics language as the DOPP directive.

UPDATE:  Did Milgram violate the Public Officer's Law by using his state position to secure unwarranted privileges or exemptions for others?  Hey Milgram you just got DOPPED

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

If Moreland comes knocking

Use the following responses and I guarantee they leave you alone

Contributors aren't given any special treatment


The only thing I can do is tell you, I absolutely do not treat anyone any differently


I use campaign funds on activities that promote me publicly

If those answers are good enough for a co-chair of the Moreland Commission they should work for you too.

I'm not sure, short of a quid pro quo on tape, how the Moreland Commission can accomplish anything meaningful when it comes to donations and legislation.  If the governor can do it and the Moreland members can do it who can't?  maybe Pedro Espada or Vito Lopez.

For a bunch of smart lawyers you would have thought they would have known the answer to the question before they asked it.

No one thought that Co-Chair Rice leaking about subpoenas being issued would not result in the identity of those receiving the subpoenas being made public?  which of course would quickly result in a media review of who they donated to and when and how much.  And then the connecting of dots right back to the governor's fundraising.  What is this? ethics oppo research for dummies?   And thats before the Moreland members try to justify their own transgressions.  In a word WOW is David Patterson back in charge?

Happy hunting as the state wastes millions on a Moreland Commission that appears to be chock full of hypocrites.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Summer of Scandal

The summer of scandal in Albany trudges on.

It's getting to be routine.

Some new transgression, calls for new investigations, calls for resignations, support voiced by various groups for "ethics reform".  And a few days later the cycle begins again.

When a guy like me is bored with scandal in Albany we have a problem.

It appears that no one actually wants to do the hard work of actually thinking about what will change the culture.

It will not be changed by a "magic bullet" of ethics reform legislation or campaign finance reform.

It will take dedicated ethics professional's doing the small things right over and over and over again.

For example I've been talking to JJOKE commissioners trying to get them to stop being reactionary to the ethics scandal du juor and start thinking about why the various issues persist.

I asked Gary Lavine to step back and think about why the source of funding requirement was passed.  Was it a knee jerk reaction by the gov and the goo goos to the media wanting to know who funded one particular lobbying campaign?  Or was there a valid reason for the public to know the source of funding of lobbying campaigns?  And if it were the latter does the legislation and regulations JJOKE has created accomplish that goal?  I told Gary that source of funding is really an attempt to defund particular lobbying groups.  If the public really wanted to know who pays for lobbying campaigns EVERY lobby organization should disclose the source of their funds traced all the way back to it's origins.  Which of course will never happen.  What exists now is just a trap to catch the uninformed, those groups that cannot afford or do not realize that people that do what I do for a living can avoid these regulations legally without breaking a sweat.

I also asked Gary to review those groups that have asked for exemptions from the source of funding requirements but have not filed the reports that were due in January of 2013.  Groups like NYCLU that met the $50000 lobbying threshold for disclosure but did not do so.  Before you talk about changing the regulations don't you think you are obligated to review the filings or lack thereof?  Ask why Susan Lerner only listed one donor in 2012.  Disclosure has no value if no one reviews it or insures it is accurate.

I wrote many years ago about the strip show quality of ethics disclosures in Albany.  It's a look but don't touch approach and heaven forbid you actually talk to the strippers before passing judgement.

Shelly Silver is in the news for getting frequent flyer points for his trips to Albany.  And no question Shelly must be the kind of guy that takes the dinner rolls home from a bar mitzvah to go to the lengths he does to rack up the miles.  But has anyone bothered to look at the ethics opinions to see if it is permissable?

On the JJOKE website opinion 08-04 which JJOKE has not overruled clearly states State employees and elected officials may keep the rewards and miles and bonus points they earn using state funds to travel as long as it doesn't cost the state extra and the rewards are available to the general public.

That opinion was drafted by John Feerick, the "gold standard" for ethics if you believe Elliot "snookie" Spitzer.  Do you know who dissented to that opinion?  Shelly Silver's appointee Virginia Appuzzo.  Weird huh?

So with everything going on in the summer of scandal is JJOKE doing the systematic temporal analysis of campaign donations and legislative action I have previously recommended?  Nope the Moreland folks are, unless the gov woke up over the weekend and realized his fundraising will be every bit as questionable as any legislators.

No JJOKE is doing another sex harassment case.  The staff is pissed that the assembly didn't tell them about Micah Kelner.  So here we go again JJOKE wastes time and resources to scratch an itch the media has.

Well don't say I am not helpful.  Sexual harassment is prevolent in government and if you want proof send a form subpoena to every single state employee and ask them if they have been sexually harassed, when and by whom.  Then publish the results and moveon to doing the little things right every time, starting with the selection of the next executive director of JJOKE.  It's been over 3 months what are you waiting for?

I might have to take the rest of the summer of scandal off from blogging.  The subject bores me right now and it has brought me so much business it's getting hard to find the time to do anyone's work but my own client's.  Both those that need an ethical bodyguard and those that need an ethics hitman.

Remember when it comes to ethics in Albany you are either a predator or you are the prey.

I'll blog again after the summer I've got a safari to go on.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Where have I seen this before?

I just came across an interesting email that is floating around.

Being the cynic I am I immediately thought this looks like an attempt to coordinate with the Moreland Commission to help Cuomo get more power over JJOKE thru new legislation next year.

But this is the New York City Bar Association and the good government groups they would never let themselves be used that way.

Here's the email and I'll post my response then lets wait and see the timing of the reports release.

From: Davis, Evan A. []
Sent: Friday, August 09, 2013 11:32 AM
To: Davis, Evan A.
Subject: JCOPE Review

Dear Members of the Legislature, General Counsels to State Departments and Agencies, Executive Directors of Good Government Groups, Lobbying Firm Managing Partners and Professors of State and Local Government Law:

The Government Ethics Committee of the New York City Bar, in cooperation with Common Cause New York and the League of Women Voters, has undertaken to report on the Joint Committee on Public Ethics established by the Public Integrity Reform Act of 2011 signed into law on August 15, 2011. The report will consider how well the Act is functioning in practice, whether amendments to the Act are required, how well JCOPE is fulfilling its responsibilities and the apparent cause of any shortcomings found (e.g. budget constraints, statutory defects, inadequately trained or experienced staff).

I am heading up the Subcommittee preparing this report. Our group has prepared the attached short questionnaire to aid our work. I write to ask that you complete it and return it to me promptly. It is your choice whether to identify yourself, and if you do no statement or view will be attributed to you or your organization without your consent. If you would like to speak to a member of the Committee please indicate that when you return the form. The form may be returned

anonymously by mailing it to me at the address below. Or it can be emailed back to me when completed.

Thank you very much for your attention and consideration.

Best regards,

Evan Davis 

My responses I hope they help Evan


Joint Commission on Public Ethics (JCOPE) Questionnaire
Identifying Information (optional)
1.)    Please check the group of which you are a member:
___ Executive Branch
___ Legislative Branch
_X__ Good Government Group
___ Lobbying Group
___ Newspaper Editorial Board
___ Academic Institution
___ Other ___________________________
2.)    Please provide your contact information (optional):
Name:_David Grandeau
Employer:_Ethics Watch
Daytime phone number: 5184618635
1.)    In your opinion, on a scale of 1-5 (1 meaning “not necessary,” 5 meaning “very necessary,” and N meaning “no basis for an opinion”), how necessary are amendments to the following areas of the JCOPE statute (please circle one number and explain your answer):
a.       Appointment of Commission Members:    1    2    3    4    5    N
Please explain your answer: It depends on the people appointed stupid!!!!  Now if you change the appointment structure to give the governor more control things will run smoother but JJOKE will be more of a tool for the governor than an independent ethics body.

b.   Investigations and Enforcement: 1 2 3 4 5 N  
Please explain your answer:You want to give JJOKE more investigative power?  I’m all for it if they investigate Common Cause’s source of funding disclosure which only listed one donor.  They have had 18 months and all they have done is look at sex sex sex.  They don’t need more power they need better people
c.       Financial Disclosure Requirements:   1    2    3    4    5    N

Please explain your answer: who cares no one reviews what we have now.  It’s the people stupid!!!
d.      Other (please list) _________________________: 1 2 3 4 5N
Please explain your answer:amend the statute so all actions are done in public session and the public gets to see how corrupt JJOKE is
2.)    On a scale of 1 to 5 (1 meaning “poor,” 5 meaning “excellent,” and N meaning “no basis for an opinion”) how would you rate JCOPE’s performance in the following areas (please circle one number and explain your answer):
a.       Training and Education: 1 2 3 4 5 N
Please explain your answer:LOLOLOLOLOL what training? The head of training is a JJOKE commissioners niece fired by the former ethics agency.  Have any members of the NYC bar actually attended a training?  Nuff said  It’s the people stupid!!!!
b.      Responsiveness to Advisory Requests: 1 2 3 4 5 N
Please explain your answer:You have got to be kidding.  I have over 20 requests for opinions pending some of which go back to 2009.
c.       Public Relations and Outreach: 1 2 3 4 5 N
Please explain your answer: Milgram makes over $100k and all he says is “no comment”   It’s JJOKE for a reason.
d.      Investigations and Enforcement
Please explain your answer: Go ask Vito Lopez.  Everyone else has gotten a pass.  Unregistered lobbyists like the state Democratic campaign committee, Yoko Ono and the Artists against Fracking, source of funding not filed by NYCLU and Family Planning Advocates or incomplete filings by Susan Lerner at Common Cause NY.  Dumb question given how little has been done
3.)    On a scale of 1 to 5 (1 meaning “poor,” 5 meaning “excellent,” and N meaning “no basis for an opinion”) how would you rate the adequacy of JCOPE’s resources in the following areas (please circle one number and explain your answer):
a.       Information Technology (IT):    1    2    3    4    5     N
Please explain your answer: Try to use the online system during filing deadlines.  That is if it is actually up and running.  If you want to see a system that works look at the NYC Lobby online filing system
b.      Staffing:    1    2    3    4    5    N
Please explain your answer: IT”S THE PEOPLE STUID!!!!  How many of Biben’s buddies are still working there? 
c.       Budget:    1    2    3    4    5    N
Please explain your answer:They want more and you would just be throwing good money after bad.  You could outsource the work for 75% of the budget and get it done right.

4.)    What changes do you think should be made with regard to JCOPE’s resources?
You don’t give an infant a bigger gun you give them a rattle and a diaper change
5.)   What do you consider to be JCOPE’s main successes?
I’m not aware of any other than Commissioner and staff resignations
 6.)    What do you consider to be JCOPE’s primary shortcomings?


Thank you for your cooperation and participation!


Thursday, August 8, 2013

It's the people stupid

Why isn't this guy running JJOKE or the Moreland Commission?

Insider X or Y or Z I can't remember who is who anymore . . . anyway an insider told me the JJOKE commissioners and staff are all expecting subpoenas from the Moreland Commission to explain why Shelly Silver was not investigated as part of the Vito Lopez case.

Expect a JJOKE staff generated leak about who blocked looking into Shelly's role in the Lopez scandal.

I'm hearing Ellen Biben is still in regular contact with the Cuomo folks at JJOKE.  Shades of Barry Ginsberg

On a similiar note it appears that the latest sex investigation that JJOKE is playing with (somebody sure likes sex at JJOKE) was staff driven and the commissioners got told by staff what JJOKE would work on.  Why are any commissioners still there?  JJOKE is just a reputation killer and now it might get expensive to lawyer up.

The end game in all this is for the Moreland Commission to recommend that the gov get more power ovver JJOKE.  As if that will change how bad they are.


Speaking of people the  Letizia Tagliafierro for executive director campaign is now tied at 6 votes for and 6 votes against with David Renzi and Gary Lavine the only on the fence votes left.  Latezia needs both to become executive director.  Of course being appointed by an 8 to 6 majority is a recipe for career ending drama for LT but after her time in the legislature and I am sure her experience with amorous senators, running a deeply flawed JJOKE probably looks pretty good.  If nothing else she does know what happens in Albany when it comes to sexual harassment and that seems to be all JJOKE cares about so it could be a good fit.

Last insider tidbit, I'm hearing Uncle Vinny is shopping a bit of business  to other board members   Be careful Uncle Vinny it looks bad and may be a serious conflict of interest.  You never know where those Moreland folks might send subpoenas . . . well actually you do because they leak it to downstate media outlets.

Reginna Calcaterra . . . isn't life fabulous.  I'm surprised she hasn't visited Saratoga yet. . . it's a good photo op.  By the way who is paying her and how much?  I hope she is careful about seperating her state work from her book promotion activity.

Regina's book is published by HarperCollins . . . the gov's book is published by HarperCollins  weird coincidence if you ask me.

Monday, August 5, 2013

It's time for Gary Lavine to WAKE UP

I just got off the phone with JJOKE commissioner Gary Lavine.

I've known and liked Gary for over 7 years.

He gave me the greatest single piece of advice when I was leaving government that anyone ever has He told me to "embrace serendipity".  It took me a year to understand what he ment but now I try to live that thought every single day.

Anyway I spoke with Gary about his recent statement at the last JJOKE meeting that the source of funding regulations should be amended to require an exemted organization to still file a list of it's donor's with JJOKE with the data to be maintained by JJOKE in confidance.

When I heard that I thought of the fact that 96% of people surveyed by WRGB6 did not trust JJOKE.  I know I don't trust JJOKE and I thought they want the information to leak it to the 2nd floor.

But I remembered Gary had told me on numerous occasions that he wasn't under the 2nd floor's direction so I thought this is a good opportunity to test that statement.

So I asked "what use could JJOKE have for the source of funding data from an exempted organization?"

Gary had a ready answer to the effect that it serves to legitimize the regulatory process.

So I followed up with "but Gary what would you do with that information?"

He said that was a cogent question and that in the future JCOPE might have a use for the data.

So I decided to push the issue and asked the following "Gary have you even reviewed the information that has already been filed?  for example Susan Lerner's filing for Common Cause?"

And I got this breath of honesty "No"


The smartest commissioner on JJOKE has never reviewed the source of funding that has been filed, can't really articulate why he wants the source of funding information from exempted organizations and doesn't really know the rationale for why the disclosure is even required or how it works in real life.

And that is before we had our conversation about Letizia and the Moreland Commission.

JJOKE is doomed

I've returned Gary's favor of providing me the best advice I've ever received about leaving government

I told him he should resign.  As a friend I hope he listened