Thursday, April 30, 2015

Chapter 3

When I got back from Eggy’s my assistant Pat had a stack of phone messages for me and a termination letter from Ravi, which at least solved one problem.

Pat had been with me from the start, everywhere I have gone she has followed.  She was in her mid-fifties now and still an attractive women.  I first met her when I started in the legislature and she was working for then Senator now dead Senator Vito Falcon.  Falcon was actually a pretty solid guy by Albany standards, a wife and kids, no mistresses and no out of wedlock children.  For Albany legislators that made him eligible for saint hood.  But Vito did enjoy having a lot of pretty women work for him.  They were known in the halls of the capital as Falcon’s angels and many young male staffers called his office Candyland.  Pat was one of Falcons angels but of the high end variety.  I still remember the day I went to deliver something to the Senator and one of the angels was working as the receptionist at a glass desk with no underwear and a miniskirt.  The mere thought of her shaven vagina on display brought a smile to my face, this was after all 20 years ago when the full bush was in vogue and a shaven vagina was only found in pornos and California.  What was her name?  Tina something or other.

“What are you smiling about” Pat asked

“Just thinking about how underpaid you are”

“That’s complete horseshit, I’m not underpaid in fact you pay me about 50% too much it’s the main reason I’m still here”

She was right, apart from Karrie Jones’s lobby firm Leathers and Lace paid some of the highest support staff salaries in Albany.  And Karrie Jones only paid more because in her twisted mind if she paid the most that somehow meant she had the best staff. 

“After a meeting at Eggy’s only 2 things would make you smile, either you thought of a way to ruin Richard’s life or you are thinking about that little slut Tina Laggert’s miniskirt from Vito’s office”

God that women is scary good at what she does.

“Fuck off Pat and get me a meeting with Bob Haxter for drinks at 9 at the Groverneurs club, a table where everyone can see us.  And bill Ravi an extra $60000 as a termination fee, copy all his files, put the copies in the trunk of the Audi and shred the originals”

“So it’s both Tina’s miniskirt and screwing Richard, well enjoy yourself but be careful”

As I sat at my desk I started to read the phone messages, there were 17 plus the 30 voice mails I had ignored on my cell phone which meant I’d be busy for the next couple of hours.

That was another lesson Cadillac Curtis had taught me, return every phone call within 4 hours.  If you weren’t going to return it by then throw the message away it wasn’t worth returning.

The first call on top of the pile was from Roland.

This would be boring but might be profitable.

“Roland what can I help you with today?”

“Well first thing how am I supposed to get truffle butter in a bill?  I had to ask my 14 year old daughter what it meant because I heard it in a Niki Minage song she had playing in the car.  Do you know what truffle butter is?  My god I will never forgive Bobby.  My daughter thinks and I quote her now that I’m a creeper.  My wife says I need counseling and wanted to know how I even knew to ask what it was.  And then told me in no uncertain terms I would never and I repeat never be able to even see her naked again much less create any truffle butter”

I merely chuckled, Roland’s wife had to be one of the nicest women in our social circle and my guess was if Roland knew even the slightest thing about women she would have been more than happy to can some truffle butter for him.  But Roland knew less about women than anyone I’ve ever met.

“Yea that’s going to be a tuff one to win, Rollie, maybe do a sexual harassment bill”

“I can’t ask any of my associates to research truffle butter much less write it into a bill that I could get passed but that’s not why I called, we have a conflict with one of our corporate clients.  They have a small research division that wants to compete for one of the medical marijuana licenses.  That’s just not the type of work we want to be involved with, drug dealing is not within the scope of our expertise”

No shit I thought.

“Who’s the client and what will they pay?”

“It’s Masilla Corp. and they should be good for $5000 a month plus a bonus if they get a license”

“You know that bonuses for lobbying are illegal Roland”

“And yet you keep collecting them”

“I have the best compliance consultant on retainer, you should try him”

“Denny Dejardin? That fucking guy is crazy how can you trust him?”

“He is crazy and he is a genius and I’ve never met anyone I trusted more as long as he gets his monthly fee”

“Whatever, FBH would no sooner hire him than we would represent drug dealers”

Which was why Leathers and Lace made 5 times the profit FBH did.

“Have Masilla call me, do you want a piece as a referral fee?”

“Not a referral fee but if I lose this bet I’d appreciate it if you would cover half of it”

“Consider it done Roland”

Next on the pile of phone messages was Sean Flynn, all 5 foot 3 inches of him, the mini mick as he was known behind his back. He was In house counsel at PonyXpress a startup company trying to rip off the Uber app by using a network of drivers traveling for personal business to deliver packages, supposedly cheaper and quicker than FedEx or UPS.  I don’t know if it is real and they could only afford a $2500 a month retainer to get a bill passed limiting their liability to the drivers in their system.  They had enough funding for 6 more months so no reason to call the mini mick back today, throw that one away.

And so it went for the next hour or so.  In the end I had two messages I still needed to return.  One was Flick Feerdom the CEO of Patsy Whitney Inc. one of my largest and oldest clients the other was Richard Siler.  I had to do Flick first because I could not risk talking to Richard and being upset when I spoke to Flick but Flick never did anything fast which meant that was going to be a 30 minute call.

I had an idea.

I dialed Richards’s cell.

“Siler” he answered.

“Hey Dick its Leathers GO FUCK YOURSELF” and I hung up and quickly called Flick.

Let Richard think about that for a bit.

The call with Flick took 23 minutes, involved scheduling two conference calls with his outside and inside counsels and an appearance before his board next week.  All to make sure the Senate Majority Leader would not publicly support eliminating the LLC loophole from campaign finance reform legislation.  Flick had at least 60 LLCs he used to make campaign contributions and didn’t want the risk of any politician closing his loophole.  The Senate Majority Leader, Homer “the hose” Hibert was no more likely to close the loophole than he was to let the minority in the senate have decent office space but Flick didn’t need to know that.

Hibert was an interesting guy.  He was known as “the hose” by those in the media for his reputation of helping all the volunteer fire departments in upstate New York with member item money.  He was known as “the hose” by those of us in the lobby world that really knew him and his many, many girlfriends for the size of his legendary penis.  The last time I checked in the clubs locker room it had to be 11 inches long if it was an inch.  Lord knows how big it got when it was angry.  Many a female staffer had to take time off after serving on the senator’s staff.  The only bigger dick than Hiberts penis was his son Oscar.  Oscar had the intelligence of a slug and the creativity to match.  He was presently the town clerk in East Bumblefuck or some such town in Daddy’s senate district.  But young Oscar wanted more, he wanted to be a lobbyist.  And “the hose” made sure we all knew it.  “The hose” expected a bidding war for Oscar’s services and the top ten firms would all have to bid.  The loser in this case was whoever bid the most and had to hire Oscar.  The only catch was “the hose” was going to review all the bids.  Piss off “the hose” by bidding too little or not bidding at all and you and your clients would be dead in the senate until “the hose” was either dead or in federal prison.  But I had an idea I just needed to talk to “the hose” privately and show him a better way for Oscar to get rich, for the rest of us to stay rich, for “the hose” not to get angry and for no one to go to jail, other than Richard if things went just right.

No more putting off the call to Richard.

I dialed his cell again.

“Siler and don’t you ever tell me to fuck off again”

“FUCK OFF” and I hung up.  I crack myself up.

My cell rang it was Richard.

“Leathers, how can I help you?”

“What is your fucking problem?”

“Richard what are you talking about?”

“You just told me to fuck off and hung up on me . . . twice!”

“Are you back on the mushrooms again Richard?  I haven’t spoken to you in a week why would I? I’d rather slam my dick in a car door than talk to you”

“You just called me”

“No I didn’t, get professional help Richard I think you are cracking under the stress”

“Fuck you, I only called to get Ravi’s files”

“What files?”

“You know what files, Ravi’s research and deal files for your work for him”

“Richard I have absolutely no idea what you are talking about I don’t have any Ravi files in fact I don’t have any client named Ravi.” Then I hung up on him for the third time.

Maybe instead of solving “the hose’s” employment issue for his son I’d just rig the bidding to make sure Richard hired the little shit.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Chapter 2


“Pat tell Murray to get in here asap”

Before the words were out of my mouth I saw Murray Kaplan striding down the hallway to my office.  Murray was a shorter, fatter, younger version of me with less hair a $400 dollar suit that was trying hard to look like a $4000 suit and a $15 shirt from Kohl’s that ruined any attempt to look professional.  But Murray was smart and reliable, he had been my top associate for 4 years now and one of these days he would try to move up in the firm.  It would never happen and he would end up leaving to start his own lobby practice with 4 or 5 clients that he thought he had stolen but in reality were dogs with fleas that I needed to get rid of because they either didn’t pay their bills on time or were just a general pain in my ass with no upside.  It happened every 5 years or so and when it did I would find another Murray but for now Murray was my go to.

“Murray I need you to draft a tax exemption bill for 5 online food sale products, make sure one is truffle butter and call Ronald Hawksbille to verify what he thinks is his top seller, add it to the bill and then fill out the list with three or four other products not sold by any of our clients or any other lobbyists clients.  Make sure that shitty greek yogurt Chubbsonme doesn’t meet the definition for exemption”

“You still mad that Mr. Siler signed Chubbsonme, boss?”

“Fuckoff Murray don’t be a wise ass now go back to your hole and draft me a bill”

As I spun around in my chair, a chair by the way that used to belong to Arthur Ross when he was Speaker, a chair that I won from Roth in a card game in Roth’s office decades ago, I saw my cellphone light up with an incoming call from Andy Carp of the FBI.

Fuck this day had been going so well.

“What’s up Andy?”

“Meet me for coffee at Eggy’s Diner”

“Can’t do it I’m booked all day”


“What’s that?”

“the amount in your Key Bank checking account, do you want me to tell you how much you have in the other eight bank accounts you have in the states and the off shore accounts?”

“I’ll see you at Eggy’s in 20 minutes”

“I’ll be waiting”

I’d known Andy Carp since we were kids. We grew up in the same suburban town.  He had been in the FBI since I was a young legislative staffer, he had made more federal corruption cases in Albany than all the other agents combined, he also was the agent that busted me 15 years ago for trying to entice, Andy and the government said bribe, a mid level senator.  Bribing run of the mill legislators is a large risk, small reward move in the lobbying world.  As I gained experience and insight I learned the only people worth bribing were top level players who were smart enough to not accept a straight bag of cash, they required more artistry and finesse but back then I thought a thick envelope to Senator “Egomaniac I plan to be President someday” was the way to go.   

I literally pissed myself ruining a brand new Armani suit when Andy knocked on my door at 730 in the morning as I was on my way to the office. Why do they always do that?  It must be in some law enforcement training tape from the old KGB library.  Two or three robots in blue suits and conservative haircuts at the door telling you your life is over if you don’t cooperate.  What you should do is tell them to fuck off politely and call your lawyer.  But as I think back on it Andy was alone and smiling.  I’ve only seen Andy smile when somebody was getting hurt or was in mortal danger.  I think Andy’s idea of relaxation is watching ISIS beheadings.  Andy alone and smiling is a dangerous opportunity.

After I changed my suit Andy explained the facts of life and that I had a choice.  I could be convicted of bribery and mail fraud and do 2 years in a federal prison or I could help him set up legislators and stay out of jail and continue my meteoric rise to power.  It was an easy decision.  And I’ve regretted it every time Andy called for coffee.

As I went down the elevator to the parking garage to collect my Audi A8L from the valet I couldn’t help but think how the Audi perfectly complimented my philosophy about lobbying.  It was beautiful in an understated sought of way, it’s engineering was impeccable and compared to Lace’s Bentley drew half the attention but always worked.  In other words it represented the best in class and didn’t give a fuck who thought otherwise.  I slid into the gorgeous ox blood red leather seats put the heated gear shift in drive and let the 400 horsepower w12 engine purr as I glided from the parking garage and onto the pot holed streets of downtown Albany, christ it was like being in Baghdad or Troy.  It took 15 minutes to get to Eggy’s diner.  Eggy’s was a shithole, it was overpriced and the food was terrible, the only thing it had going for it was a parking lot behind the diner like a no tell motel and a guarantee that nobody I knew in politics would see us there together.

Andy was already there at the corner table, back to the wall in the gunfighters seat.  He did that on purpose, not because he wanted to sit there but because he knew I did.  He was dressed like every other FBI agent I’ve ever met or seen.  Dark blue suit, white shirt and a dark blue tie.  Conservative haircut and a decent pair of black shoes with plain black socks.  Andy had a cup of coffee and an overpriced chef’s salad in front of him.  I sat and ordered a coffee, no way was I eating anything here.

As I watched Andy open a sugar packet and pour it into his coffee I noticed he took a handful of the sugar packets and dropped them in his coat pocket, without a hint of shame, the cheap fucker.

Andy got right to the point, he always did unless he was threatening me. 

“So Mort do you still represent Ravi Kamatrappa?”

Ravi was the head of the research arm of The Albany Institute for Technology.  He was supposed to be a professor and an expert in micro dot technology.  All I really knew about Ravi was that he showed up about 20 years ago from some southern college I had never heard of wearing thousand dollar cowboy boots with blue jeans and driving a beat up Lexus, he still wore the cowboy boots and jeans but now drove a  McLaren.  Somehow he had parlayed his line of bullshit into a series of state grants, arranged by yours truly, and now Ravi was pulling down over a million dollars a year in salary and had control of a 300 million dollar pot of state money to build out the infrastructure needed to manufacture micro dots or whatever other imaginary product he was pedaling.  If Ravi was a con man he was one of the great ones and he had me on retainer to the tune of $30000 per month which he paid like clockwork.  But if Andy was asking, Ravi just became a soon to be former client.

“Mr. Kamatrappa is a valued client of my firm”

“You know he got arrested last night DWI on the Northway with a 17 year old coed blowing him?”

“In the McLaren?  She must be a gymnast”

“Not the McLaren in his wife’s Jaguar”

“No shit”  Now the fact Ravi was with a coed didn’t surprise me he was renowned as a world class swordsman but the fact that he didn’t call me to get him out of trouble was a bad sign.

“Yup and do you know who bailed him out of jail and is representing him”

“Why would I give a fuck?”

“Because it was your old running mate Dickie Siler.  He had Bob Haxter with him to act as Ravi’s criminal defense lawyer.  That’s a lot of star power for a DWI and a blowjob don’t you think?”

Ravi called Richard not me.  Not only was Ravi soon to be an ex-client but if I had anything to say about it he was soon to be in prison.  But first things first I needed to find out what Richard was up to, and I needed to find out what Andy wanted and I needed to give a lot more thought to all the shady deals I had helped Ravi set up, especially the Oxford Road Development Group that Ravi was running all the construction contracts for his micro dot manufacturing plant thru.  And I knew right where to start.  I would meet Bob Haxter for drinks.

Bob was a former AUSA that went into private practice about 10 years ago.  His firm did criminal defense especially white collar cases and personal injury law.  I’d sent him quite a bit of work over the years and I knew the only thing he loved to talk about more than himself was his client’s troubles.

As I glanced back at Andy I noticed he was starting to smile.

“So let’s talk about Ravi after you have a chance to think about how much you want to help the FBI . . . again”

Before I could respond Andy stood up and left without saying a word.  And of course without paying.  These FBI guys were cheaper than the legislators they were always trying to jam up, at least your average legislator would pay for breakfast from their campaign account that you had just donated to.

Cheap bastards.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Chapter 1

It all started with truffle butter . . . No doubt about it Bobby St. Lapierre was one twisted dude.  We had been playing this game since we were staffers in the New York Legislature.  What is it now almost 20 years? Bobby and Roland Hooper, Dan Kerr and Sam Casey, Richard Siler and me, Mort Leatherbaum, Leathers to my friends and enemies alike.  The game was simple and over time the only thing that has changed was how much money we played for.  When it was your turn you picked a phrase or a word and the other guys and gal if we were letting Jennifer Corehouse, known to one and all as Jenny Whorehouse, play, would try to get the word or phrase passed in a piece of legislation.  First to get it done won the pot.  Originally when we were poor staffers it was $10 a man, now as everyone’s wealth, other than Sam’s, had grown dramatically it was $5000 a man.

Bobby ran his own one man lobby shop.  He was doing well, primarily because he made a point of sleeping with whichever political leader had the hottest Chief of Staff or Counsel.  This guaranteed that Bobby would be fed a dozen solid clients every session.  Do the math, a dozen clients at $10000 per month was good for $1.44 million in revenue each year.  With his overhead limited to a cell phone, a Porsche and a gay Canadian assistant Bobby had plenty of disposable income but limited future growth opportunities or an exit plan other than a fatal dose of some yet unknown STD.

Roland was a partner in Flecker, Brillstein and Howe, the top litigation firm in Albany.  Roland had convinced David Flecker that a lobbying department within the law firm would be very profitable and he was right.  With the firm feeding it’s corporate clients to Roland to service as a lobbyist and Roland hiring the best and brightest law grads to do his research and analysis, FBH had built a reputation as a solid lobby shop.  Meticulous about being legally correct but not always aggressive enough or creative enough to get it done.  If you had an issue with a 60% approval rating FBH could get your legislation passed if you had a tough one you hired me.

Dan was partners with Mickey Dolan in Dolan and Kerr PC.  Mickey had been Counsel to 3 previous Senate Majority Leaders, had hired most of the senior staff at the senate and was hated by the minority in the Senate and the majority in the Assembly and could care less.  If you wanted Senate support for a bill you hired Dolan and Kerr at $10000 per month if you wanted to stop the other side from passing legislation you hired Dolan and Kerr at $20000 per month.  Business was good and as long as Mickey was breathing Dan could expect to receive his $750000 a year salary.

Sam was Assemblyman Munro’s Chief of Staff.  Munro was one of the few white assemblyman that still had power.  Munro had survived the purge that occurred when the previous speaker Benny Weiss was forced from office after his indictment on a federal bribery charge.  Munro also survived when the Speaker before Weiss, Milton Jacobs had been forced from office after his role in a municipal labor union’s kickback scheme had been reported in the New York Times.  Munro also survived when the Speaker before Weiss and Jacobs, Arthur Roth had been convicted on a federal theft of honest services charge for his role in a consulting business that had several clients that received member items from Roth.  Munro’s main skill was as a survivor, and Sam’s main skill was in telling Munro who the next indictment was coming down against.  How Sam knew was a talent known only to Sam and me.  Sam made his $120000 a year as a top staffer in the Assembly and he owed me and he knew it.  As long as Sam was in my debt he was a valuable resource.  Sam would never receive a better job offer as long as I could prevent it and I planned on preventing it forever.

Richard now worked as a top lobbyist for the Albany office of a national lobby firm, Jackson and Brickner.  Richard was good, some would say better than me.  I didn’t believe it but Richard did.  We had been associates together a decade ago.  Made a ton of money, basically ruled this town but you could only live with so many showdowns of whose dick was bigger before the envy ruined the partnership.  Now we just took turns topping the lists of top lobbyists.  Mostly we just took turns trying to fuck each other over.

Jenny wasn’t in this pot, I think because Bobby was presently fucking her and my guess is “truffle butter” was his sick inside joke to let us know about his most recent sexual proclivities.  Jenny was the in-house lobbyist for the New York Business Improvement Alliance.  She was also my favorite travel companion for out of town conferences.  She was also Richard’s ex-wife, which made the out of town conferences twice as much fun.

No matter, with $25000 to the winner I would figure out a way to get “truffle butter” in a piece of legislation.  Not only that I planned to bill one of my firm’s clients at least another $25000 to do it.  I am, humbly and simply put God’s gift to the lobbying community.  Mort Leatherbaum, name partner in Leatherbaum & Lacewell, the top lobbying firm in Albany.  Known to one and all as Leathers and Lace.  Jim Lacewell was my partner and 25 years ago it was his money that started the firm, now everytime I saw his Bentley parked with the valet downstairs at 666 Broadway where our office was located all I could think of was the $1.3 million he sucked out of the firm each year.  Jim couldn’t find the capital at this point with a search party and a map much less get a bill passed but he did play to a 3 handicap and belonged to 4 different country clubs and the client’s trusted him so for the foreseeable future I would remain a partner with Jim at Leathers and Lace, keep paying Jim his $1.3 million and keep figuring out ways to use the firm’s clients to pay me millions each year in side deals and stock options. 

It was one of Jim’s client’s that I was targeting to pay me a $25000 bonus for getting truffle butter a tax exemption.  The Food Shopping Channel Inc. had been paying us $10000 a month for the last 3 years to lobby for and against various issues that effected their business in New York.  Now it was time for New York to pass a bill exempting truffle butter and 4 or 5 other products from sales tax , one of which would be sold by The Food Shopping Channel Inc..  But first things first, I had to amend our agreement with The Food Shopping Channel Inc. to include a bonus for passing this tax exemption. 

I asked my assistant Pat to get me Ronald Hawksbille III on the phone.  Trey, as he was known to his elitist friends had been the CEO of The Food Shopping Channel Inc. for the last 4 years ever since his father, Ronald Hawksbille Jr. had put him in charge.

 “Ronnie, have I got a deal for you”

“Every time you say that it costs me money Leathers”

“And every time it costs you money I get you a 10x return on that investment”

“True dat” Why do rich spoiled white boys have to speak like they are in a rap video I wondered.

“What’s the largest volume seller on your website Ronnie?”

“How the fuck would I know Leathers?  I’m not even sure I know the address of the website why?”

“Don’t worry why just find out and call me back, word is The Big Guy (Governor McClowey) is planning a new tax exemption bill to be introduced to benefit New York online retailers so let’s make sure we get a piece of it”

“Why would he help us?”

Lord almighty Ronald was one dumb motherfucker.

“He’s going to help us because I am that good, and you are going to pay me an extra $25000 when I make it happen, deal?”

“You make it happen and I’ll give Leathers & Lace a $25000 bonus”

“No I make it happen and you and I are going to play one game of tennis for $25000 cash and I’m going to win”

“But Leathers you know I don’t play tennis”

“That’s why I’m going to win”

Not to mention that’s how I’m going to avoid sharing with Lace and how I’m going to avoid the contingent fee prohibition in the Lobby Act, not that anyone at the Lobby Agency would ever dream of investigating me much less prosecuting me.

As a bonus I’ll convince that idiot Ronnie to hire the Governor’s latest slam piece as a spokeswomen on The Food Shopping Channel Inc.  Combine that with a campaign contribution to Speaker Washington, the first black Speaker in New York’s history in the Assembly, by the way how great was it that the going rate for the previous Jewish speakers was a $50000 campaign donation but Washington could be rented for a measly $5000, add in a trip to Puerto Rico for the Senate Majority leader, paid for by one of my clients numerous 501c4 business development charities and “truffle butter” was as good as passed.

And not to confuse anyone I will enjoy spending the money I win but it’s not about the money it’s about winning or more precisely it’s about my friends losing.

Because in this town not losing makes you a winner.

As my mentor Cadillac Curtis always told me.  “It only take two things to be a successful lobbyist, avoid responsibility for your mistakes and take credit for the success of others, before they do.”


I give up

JJOKE may be unfixable.

Another meeting another clown fest.

They were suppose to release the annual report, late but it would have made for at least a bit of a media event, a peek behind the curtain.  It was on the agenda but Dan Horwitz fresh from yet another Amtrak fiasco (btw Dan drive up to Albany or come in the night before.  For that matter all the outside Albany commissioners be honest enough to admit you do not care enough about ethics to take a day from your busy lives to meet in a room with the other ethics hypocrites on the commission) notified all that the annual report would not be released until after all commissioners had a chance to review and comment.  WTF are you saying Dan?  Did LT not provide you all a copy last week or is there something in the report that the governor might object to?

And what is up with the Horwitz Weissman hatred?  It's obvious guys either tone it down or duke it out.  And while you are at it tell Monica to know her place it's emasculating when she has to come to Dan's defense.  Keep your pimp hand strong Dan.

And Gary now that you have jurisdiction over local lobbying will your law firm register? will you resign? will you curtail your campaign contributions.  Pretty obvious by your interest in local lobbying that you have a dog in the fight.

Anyway I'm done for a while blogging about JJOKE it bores me.

I'm not done blogging though I had an idea I enjoy writing spoofs about my imaginary ability to recount word for word what goes on in the halls of power in Albany so I'm going to spend the rest iof the spring and summer writing a spoof about Albany and politics and I'm going to post it chapter by chapter on the blog.

I'm sure it will suck and Casey Seiler will ravage my style and punctuation but fuck him what has he ever accomplished?  And I can make him a character in the book.  Every political novel needs a dilittante media type that rides his bike and reads Proust in the park while reportable stories go unreported all around him.

As I have time I'll add to the story  lets see how it goes Chapter 1 coming soon.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Why isn't JJOKE pursuing illegal gift cases involving free travel provided to public officials from registered lobbyists and their clients?

That's a long question with a simple answer.  They choose not to.

In the old days when I was running the lobby commission those airplane cases were my bread and butter.

They were easy to prove and the media loved reporting about them.

The only people that loved free airplane travel more than the media were the public officials that just could not help themselves.  The lure of the perk of being on a private plane or having someone else pay for the trip was like drawing bees to honey or flies to horseshit   worked every time.

Well half that equation still holds true the politicians still love those free trips.

In the last couple of weeks I've read about Cuomo buddy Andrew Farkas acting as a travel agent for the Governor and soliciting SONY in trying to "hitch a ride" back to NY. 

Both Cuomo and De Blasio took Caribbean vacations recently and neither provided any proof that they paid for their trips themselves.

And just today I read that Mayor De Blasio is using a previously registered lobbying entity to foot the bill for his travel to promote his progressive agenda including issues of income inequality (how is that for irony?).

Now I would never dream of telling JJOKE what to do but it doesn't get much better than this.  An airplane trip that doesn't involve the governor (who knows Cuomo may even enjoy watching De Blasio twist in the wind while JJOKE investigates) financed by some shadowey group that was registered in 2014 but isn't in 2015 (you get a gift case and an unregistered lobbyist case all in one).

All that would be missing to ignite the media story is a leak that JJOKE has opened an investigation.

Let me provide that leak.

I just spoke with JJOKE and asked if Campaign for One New York was registered as a lobbyist in 2015.  When they asked why I wanted to know I explained the facts set forth above would make a good gift case.  At that point I was told that the JJOKE chief investigator Patrick Coultrie (not sure of the spelling) was "all over it".  And just to warn Milgram before he calls me a liar I was on a speaker phone with 3 JJOKE senior staffers when the conversation took place.

There you have it.

JCOPE is investigating Mayor De Blasio's acceptance of gifts from a group, being used by the Mayor as his personal slush fund, who is or should be a registered lobbyist.

This could be the dawn of a new era at JCOPE.  Lets hope so.

Friday, April 3, 2015

How to fix the JCOPE backlog and get richer in the process

I promised I would reveal my solution to fix JCOPE's backlog and help legislators get rich with undisclosed outside income.  And they are related.

Here is the business opportunity.

JCOPE's backlog results from over 5000 registrations being submitted in the first 2 weeks every other year.  That's not going to change.

JCOPE is institutionally incapable of working any faster or smarter than they are right now.

So if you can't speed up the registration approvals you have to reduce the number of registrations.  Especially since the new "ethics reform" added local lobbying for entities over 5000 people (does JCOPE even know how many additional registrations that may generate?)

Since a lobbyist has to file a registration for every client the only way to reduce the number of registrations is to reduce the number of clients.

How do you do that?  Simple.

David Grandeau and Associates is offering a new service - lobby brokerage.

Lobbyists get their existing clients to terminate and hire DGA to hire their prior lobbyist.  Now DGA is the client and each lobbyist only has to file 1 registration with DGA as their client.  The actual client's identity never has to be released publicly (3rd party beneficiaries are not required by the statute to be identified, it's purely voluntary).  Because DGA is the client no source of funding disclosure will be required by the prior clients, DGA files 1 client semi annual further cutting down JCOPE's workload, DGA's clients are now free to lavish gifts on legislators since they are not subject to the gift ban (and don't worry DGA would never give a legislator a gift).  PROBLEM SOLVED

In addition as part of this lobby brokerage service DGA will file the lobbyist's single registration statement and any amendments to it for the lobbyist.  All that internal busy work goes away and the lobbyist can focus on lobbying.  For a firm like Patricia Lynch and Associates for example instead of approx. 100 registrations to file and process there is only 1.   Which means only one $200 registration fee instead of 100 fees.  The savings for the lobbyist is significant.

And since I'm not a charity my fee can come from the client, lets say a flat 5% of the amount they pay the lobbyist.  The client gets anonymity, no administrative burden, freedom from source of funding disclosures and gift bans, the lobbyist gets simplicity in only having to do 1 registration every 2 years, no administrative burden, a reduction in registration fees and peace of mind knowing DGA is doing their compliance.  JCOPE no longer has a backlog.  A win all the way around.

And DGA's new service will not be limited to lobby clients.  Any legislator that wants to earn outside income can come work for DGA as a consultant.  Your prior employer hires DGA at your prior rate of pay plus 5% and we hire you.  You disclose your outside income is from DGA and I tell reporters that ask what you do for the money that you are providing strategic advice.  I might even introduce you to some of my new lobby brokerage clients, I think that's called vertical integration in the world of economics.  Granted it might be called honest service fraud in Preet's world but if Shelly beats the case we are golden.

And for those in the industry that might say it's not legal, it's already being done by a firm called Multistate.  Granted they list the third party and do separate registrations but that is voluntary on their part, most importantly they don't do a source of funding disclosure.

All truly great business ideas borrow from an existing brilliant business idea and make it better.  Multistate was brilliant in avoiding source of funding I'm going to make it better.

Any lobbyist that wants to talk to me about the next great idea in lobby registration call me at 5184618635.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Ethics reform on Aprils fools day - perfect

New York's new best in the world disclosure rules for legislators will not change the culture of corruption that exists in Albany.  In fact they are actual proof that the laws themselves and the continual "reform" of those laws are the problem not the solution.

I suggest a simple test.  Just apply the new laws to the financial disclosures provided by a list of our corrupt politicians (at least those perceived to be corrupt, convicted and/or indicted) like Shelly Silver, Joe Bruno, Tony Seminerio, Pedro Espada etc etc etc yada yada yada.  I think you will find the new law isn't any more effective than the old law. 

Why do we expect criminals to change into self reporting criminals just because the governor touts the latest bullshit ethics reform as a gleaming triumph?

Do you want a simple test?  Go ask some lawyer legislators if the new disclosure rules would result in their disclosing any new information.  A simple question for Dean Skelos, under the new best in the world disclosure rules will you be required to inform the public about any arrangements you do not presently disclose?  There are three possible answers.

1. NO  -  the most likely response of our legislators.  As I said it's unrealistic to expect criminals to become self reporting criminals (or for the innocent to fabricate a disclosure).  If this is the case why did we need this "reform".

2. YES -  I doubt any legislator would admit this but if they do just ask the followup question of will you voluntarily tell us of this previously undisclosed relationship?  I especially would like Jeff Klein to do this afterall he made a big deal of announcing his decision to give up his law practice now he can tell us why.

3. I DON"T KNOW BECAUSE I DIDN"T READ THE BILL BEFORE I VOTED FOR IT - If they are honest (I know I know stop laughing) this is the response the vast majority should give. 

Yet somehow I don't think this new strictest in the nation disclosure will actually result in many if any new disclosures.

So once again the reform of the ethics laws themselves is an act of corruption.

Now for a little introspection.  A new friend told me yesterday that my obsession with JCOPE's failures is causing me to lose credibility and that my bias is showing.  She pointed out that my work disclosing the backlog of registrations at JCOPE and my promotion of that story in the media was proof that I have an ax to grind with the agency and in fact displays some inner desire for revenge and or the belief that I could do a better job than JCOPE. 

I thought about it and she is right.   I clearly think I can do a better job and by the way I did for over a decade.  Not boasting just go check the factual record.  And yes I do enjoy getting revenge but I should make it crystal clear the backlog presently occurring at JCOPE is not because the staff member in charge of processing the registrations is slow and overly methodical, Maria certainly is but I hired her and I know her strengths and weaknesses and I made her an auditor not a filing processor because auditors working slowly and methodically is a strength (plus it got her out of the office).  And it's not because the staff member supervising Maria thinks she is a lawyer and wants every possible scenario reviewed prior to approval, Amy certainly does but I hired her and I know her strengths and weaknesses and I made her an auditor not a filing processor because auditors working like a lawyer and wanting every possible scenario reviewed is a strength (plus it got her out of the office).  And it's not because the lawyer supervising Amy couldn't forsee the backlog occurring.  Martin is a very responsive attorney.  I didn't hire him but I would have I think he may be one of the best JCOPE staff members I have done business with but Martin can only fix the problems that he knows about and this problem required a level of knowledge that you only get from experience and those working for you providing you information in a timely manner (not Maria and Amy's strong suits).  And the backlog presently occurring at JCOPE is not because it's executive director, LT, lacks managerial talent.  Far from it,  I think LT has the most talent since . . . well me.  But LT didn't know about the backlog until I told her.  That's the result of a culture that exists at JCOPE and was created by the former executive director Ellen Biben.  This backlog was created by Ellen Biben 3 years ago.  That's when Ellen Biben fired the vast majority of former lobby commission staffers that processed filings and replaced them with her lawyer buddies and cronies at triple the salaries and in the NYC office.  When I ran the lobby commission we had 13 staffers processing filings and 3 lawyers available for consultation on filing issues (and no lawyer was allowed to stop the process they could only answer staff questions which were discouraged by yours truly).  After Ellen Biben got thru purging the lobby commission staff the ratio is now reversed you have 3 staff members processing or supervising registration approval and at least 13 lawyers doing what lawyers do (and anyone that saw the last commission meeting knows what that is - wasting time discussing meaningless bs).  The backlog was inevitable.    Unfortunately LT and Martin didn't have the experience and knowledge with the lobby reporting system to see it coming (there are or used to be step by step idiot proofed internal controls that you can review).  I guess I could have been a good friend and told them 6 months ago but I did want my revenge for all the old lobby commission staff that got fired so Ellen Biben could hire her lawyers.  And I did want to teach Maria and Amy a lesson since they have become a royal pain in the ass to the regulated community.

So having said all that the registration backlog is clearly ELLEN BIBEN's fault.  One more failure to add to her list.  And I'm guessing one more time JCOPE will have to grant an amnesty for late filings.

As an aside in my conversations with Gary Lavine before the meeting he admitted he only knew of the backlog from reading my blog.  Glad I could help Gary now take my advice and resign you have failed as a JCOPE commissioner.

I hope that helps my friend answer her question of why I do what I do.

Back to the original question of testing the effectiveness of the new "ethics reform"   Why doesn't someone ask JCOPE to discuss in public how the new law will actually work and if it will have a meaningful effect?  Could you imagine that?  I would pay big money to be at that discussion.

Come on LT show the world you have the chops to make people trust you to run ethics.  I know you can do it and I'm rooting for you (whether you believe it or not) but until you prove it you are part of the problem not the solution.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Historic ethics reform? Or just more horseshit?

I love when the media reports that the ethics reform (whatever that means) will require more disclosure.

How do they know?  And shouldn't they actually analyze the language before they report on it?

I guess if the legislators can vote on it without understanding it the media can report in the same fashion.

We have now moved from legislation by press release to analysis by press release.

I like to think I have a pretty good handle on ethics and lobby legislation, at least my clients pay me a lot of money because they think I do.  And the way I keep clients happy is by never being wrong.  I know that sounds arrogant but it is basic customer service.  They pay a lot of money they have a right to expect me to be correct.

And for that reason I will not be providing any of them an analysis of the "ethics reform" until next week.  Why? Because I actually have to read the language, understand the language, think about the language and apply the language to real world situations.  AND THAT TAKES TIME.

One of the things I am going to do and I would recommend the media and the goo goos do as well (it's too late for the legislators and the governor never cared as long as he could say it was the strictest ethics laws since Moses passed the 10 commandments) is apply the new disclosure rules to the last 5 legislative outside income scandals and see if the new language would have made a difference.

My initial guess is no.  But I hope to have my Shelly analysis done today and posted before midnight after all an on time analysis is all that matters in this town,  but if I can't get it right the readers will have to wait because getting it right is far more important than any fictional deadline.

Of course if all else fails I'll just call my work historic, the most detailed and comprehensive ethics reform review ever prepared.  And I will expect the media to report it as such.