ALBANY — The New York State Commission on Public Integrity released its 2007 Annual Report today. The report also covers the activities of both the former Ethics Commission and Lobbying Commission in 2007.
The Commission on Public Integrity was created by the Public Employee Ethics Reform Act of 2007, the most comprehensive modification to the lobbying and ethics laws in more than 20 years.
The new law quadrupled penalties for certain violations, reduces the gift ban from $75 to gifts of "nominal" value, bans honoraria for statewide elected officials and agency heads, prohibits the heads of State agencies from seeking nomination for public office without first resigning their public employment or taking a leave of absence, requires reports of lobbying involving disbursement of public monies and prohibits lobbyists from giving gifts not only to public officials, but also to their spouses and unemancipated children.
This report includes information on the Commissions' enforcement actions as well as training activities, advisory opinions, and changes to the law, among other topics.
Of particular interest is the record spending within the lobbying industry, which increased by more than $20 million last year. In 2007, $171.2 million was spent, up from $151 million spent the previous year. These expenses are disclosed in reports filed by 3,271 clients represented by 5,357 lobbyists and 57 public corporations.
For the eleventh straight year, the firm of Wilson, Elser, Moskowitz, Edelman & Dicker, LLP, reported the highest lobbyist compensation, totaling $9.6 million for 2007; Patricia Lynch Associates, Inc., is the second highest earner, at $6.7 million, followed by Bolton St. Johns, Inc. at $5.7 million.
Health and Mental Health organizations reported the highest expenditures from special interest groups, spending $26.7 million. Real Estate and Construction follow at $21.3 million, with Education at $13.2 million.
Clients ranked by highest expenditures are Verizon at $3.2 million, The Trustees of Columbia University of the City of New York at $2.2 million, and New York State United Teachers at $2.1 million.
O'Brien & Gere Limited had the largest lobbying contract, valued at $1,547,812. The firm lobbies on its own behalf. Forest City Ratner Companies, a commercial real estate company, had the second largest contract with Fried Frank Harris Shriver & Jacobson, LLP, valued at $771,170. The Trustees of Columbia University in the City of New York had contracts with Bill Lynch Associates LLC valued at $636,560; with Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel LLP valued at $496,368 and Fried Frank Harris Shriver & Jacobson, LLP valued at $492,155.
Commission members are: John D. Feerick, Chair, Daniel R. Alonso, Virginia M. Apuzzo, John M. Brickman, Andrew G. Celli, Jr., Richard D. Emery, Daniel J. French, Robert J. Giuffra, Jr., David L. Gruenberg, Hon. James P. King, Hon. Howard A. Levine, Loretta E. Lynch, and John T. Mitchell.
The report is available on-line at www.nyintegrity.org.