Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Who is Paying the Advance Group to Lobby For Melissa Mark-Viverito ?

''If you can find a loophole, then the law is not doing what the law is supposed to be doing.'' -- Peter F. Vallone, former City Council speaker

Isn't it against Campaign Finance Board rules for politicians to receive political consulting services that are neither declared nor paid for ?

The Advance Group, one of the city’s leading political consulting firms, has been laboring behind-the-scenes for almost a month to assist Ms. Mark-Viverito.
(Advance Group Helping Melissa Mark-Viverito in Speaker’s Race * Politicker)
SEIU 1199, the city’s powerful healthcare workers union says they are lobbying for one City Council speaker hopeful, Melissa Mark-Viverito.
(1199 Leads Effort Boosting Mark-Viverito * Politicker)

The Advance Group has been laboring behind-the-scenes for almost a month to assist Councilwoman Melissa Mark-Viverito in her quest to become the next speaker of the City Council, Ross Barkan is reporting on Politicker, adding, "When reached by Politicker earlier today, the firm’s president, Scott Levenson, confirmed he had been assisting Ms. Mark-Viverito, but declined to discuss any additional details. 'We’re just helping,' he said."

In 2001, The New York Times reported that it was against Campaign Finance Board rules for Alan Hevesi to receive free consulting services from Hank Morris.

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As part of the deal, Mr. Hevesi offered to pay his chief political consultant, Hank Morris, an extra $240,000 for work leading up to the Democratic primary on Sept. 11. Mr. Hevesi's opponents had charged that he was circumventing the campaign finance spending cap by allowing Mr. Morris, a longtime friend, to work for free or provide his firm's help at a steep discount. (Comptroller Alan G. Hevesi struck a compromise with the Campaign Finance Board * The New York Times)

Peter F. Vallone, the City Council speaker in 2001 and an author of New York City's campaign finance law, told The New York Times, ''The whole point of the law was to make it a level playing field so that money doesn't determine the outcome. So if you can find a loophole, then the law is not doing what the law is supposed to be doing.'' (What's a Campaign Debt Between Friends ? * The New York Times)

Political consultants, who work to elect lawmakers, are turning around and lobbying them on behalf of private clients.

Dark Pool Politics - Lobbyists, Meetings, and Backroom Deals are Hidden - Bill de Blasio photo DarkRoomPoliticsSlideExport_zps8f346168.jpg

"A growing trend in the state capital is raising alarms for ethics watchdogs: political consultants who work to elect lawmakers, then turn around and lobby them on behalf of private clients. At least two dozen political consulting firms are also registered lobbyists with the state, according to an analysis done for the Daily News by the New York Public Interest Research Group," Kenneth Lovett reported in The New York Daily News, adding, "The Advance Group was paid $756,907 in political consulting fees the past two years while also lobbying. Firm president Scott Levenson said he doesn’t get special favors from pols his firm helped elect, but he doesn’t deny that his firm emphasizes its access to lawmakers when drumming up business."

“We’re a lobbying organization,” Mr. Levenson told Mr. Lovett. “One of the things we do is talk about our ability to have access.” Mr. Lovett concluded his report by stating that, "Levenson also noted that straight lobbying firms often bundle money from clients for candidates."

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