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Investigations

The Commission is empowered to begin investigations either upon receipt of a complaint or on its own initiative. In 2008, the Commission opened 42 cases and issued six Notices of Reasonable Cause. Pursuant to Executive Law §94(12)(b) and 17(a)(3), a Notice of Reasonable Cause is a public document, issued upon a vote of the Commissioners, that alleges a violation of the law: it not a finding of guilt.

If at any stage of an investigation prior to the issuance of the Notice, the Commission determines either that there is no violation or that any potential conflict of interest violation has been rectified, the complainant and the subject of the complaint are notified and the investigation is terminated. Pursuant to Executive Law §94(12)(a), the investigation then remains confidential.

Pending Investigations

The Commission had 87 investigations under consideration at the end of 2008.

Summary of Major Cases

Troopergate: The Commission charged three former officials of the Executive Chamber and the former acting superintendent of the State Police with violating the Public Officers Law when they utilized the State Police to create records and gather information and documents regarding Senator Joseph L. Bruno's travel to New York City in May and June 2007.

Richard Baum, Darren Dopp, William Howard and Preston Felton were charged with violations of the State's Code of Ethics, found in Public Officers Law §74. Settlements were reached with Mr. Baum and Mr. Howard.

The Commission alleges in the Notice that Dopp and Felton “caused the State Police to serve the Governor's and their own non-governmental interests in a manner that compromised the State Police.”

“Such misconduct erodes public confidence in the integrity and independence of the State Police,” the Notice stated. Commission members noted that the law requires them to rely on reliable evidence, not “suspicion, conjecture, speculation or rumor,” and that there “presently is insufficient record evidence to support a charge that any person, other than Baum, Dopp, Howard and Felton, violated the Public Officers Law.”

Nevertheless, the Notice stated, “if warranted by additional reliable evidence, including evidence adduced in the course of a hearing on the charges set forth herein, the Commission will pursue additional Public Officers Law violations that may have been committed by any person not named in this NORC, including any individual who may have previously received or may in the future receive a ‘fifteen-day letter’ pursuant to Executive Law §94(12)(a).”

Commission staff collected thousands of documents and more than 3,000 pages of sworn testimony. It was the only government agency to place those documents on-line for public viewing.

The Commission was critical of the Executive Chamber for failing to deliver many documents in a timely manner and withholding important documents. “The Executive Chamber's piecemeal document production and its spurious claims of privilege unnecessarily and improperly delayed the Commission's investigation” and were “flatly at odds with its duty to assist the Commission's investigation and the promises of Governor Spitzer that the Administration was cooperating fully with the Commission's investigation.”

Richard A. Gerardi was Director of the Residential Energy Affordability Program for the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority in 2006 when he accepted the tickets to Yankees baseball games from an employee of Conservation Services Group (CSG). The tickets had a value of $820. Gerardi's unit advertised energy efficiency programs through CSG. He agreed to pay $2,460 to the State to settle charges that he violated the State's ethics laws when he accepted 12 tickets to baseball games from an entity under contract to his former agency.

James Brunet, a former employee of the Department of Transportation (DOT), was charged with violating the post-employment restrictions of the Public Officers Law by illegally appearing before his former agency within two years of leaving State service. The Public Officers Law generally prohibits former State employees from appearing before or providing services to their former agencies within two years of leaving State service. Brunet currently is President of Excelsior Transportation Consultants, Inc. Previously, he was employed as an Intermodal Transportation Specialist at DOT. The Commission alleged that he provided services to DOT on two purchase orders in 2006 and 2007. The case was referred to the Commission by DOT.

Penalties for violations of the laws were increased in 2007. Brunet faces a maximum penalty of $10,000 for the appearance in 2006 and $40,000 for the appearance in 2007, after the law was changed and the penalties were increased.

Settlements of Previous Investigations of the New York Temporary State Commission on Lobbying

Crane & Vacco LLC agreed to pay the Commission $20,000 to settle charges that it failed to file in 2004 May/June Lobbyist Bimonthly Report on behalf of Caywill, New York LLC.

See the following chart of a listing of lobbyists and clients who paid settlements in 2008.

SETTLEMENT/DISPOSITION AGREEMENTS (Lobbying)
2008
*Some names appear more than once because they were charged with failing to file more than one report.
NameViolation ChargedAmount PaidDate Settled
Agusta & Ross Article 1-A $250 10/07/08
Amardeep Singh Article 1-A $250 12/02/08
Amardeep Singh Article 1-A $250 12/02/08
American Alternative Fuels Article 1-A $250 12/02/08
Bodega Association of the United States Article 1-A $250 10/07/08
Brady & Company, LLC Article 1-A $250 12/02/08
Brady & Company, LLC Article 1-A $250 12/02/08
Brown, McMahon & Weinraub, LLC (Women's Bar Association) Article 1-A $300 10/07/08
Buley Public Affairs, LLC (Forest City Ratner Companies) Article 1-A $500 10/07/08
CPS 5 LLC Article 1-A $250 10/07/08
Cherokee North Shore LLC Article 1-A $250 12/02/08
Crane & Vacco, LLC Article 1-A $20,000 12/02/08
Educational Housing Services Article 1-A $250 10/07/08
Hallett's Point Development LLC (Agusta & Ross) Article 1-A $250 10/07/08
IAQ, Inc. Article 1-A $250 10/07/08
Independence Plaza Associates LLC Article 1-A $500 10/07/08
Independence Plaza Associates LLC Article 1-A $500 12/02/08
Kelly & Roth (Erie Basin Marine Association) Article 1-A $250 10/07/08
Knapp Street Development LLC Article 1-A $250 12/02/08
Marsh Wassermann & McHugh, LLC (Morton Grove Pharmaceuticals) Article 1-A $350 10/07/08
Middle Class Home Builders Association Article 1-A $250 10/07/08
Millennium Partners, Inc. Article 1-A $250 10/07/08
NY Staffing Association Article 1-A $250 10/07/08
Parkside Group Article 1-A $500 12/02/08
Parsons Article 1-A $250 10/07/08
Parsons Article 1-A $250 10/07/08
Pirro-Buley & Associates (Forest City Ratner Companies) Article 1-A $500 10/07/08
Port Parties, Ltd Article 1-A $500 10/07/08
Port Parties, Ltd Article 1-A $500 10/07/08
Quadraid Realty Partners Article 1-A $250 09/26/08
SRK Consulting Group Article 1-A $250 12/02/08
Seneca-Cayuga Tribe of Oklahoma Article 1-A $500 12/02/08
Show Media New York, LLC Article 1-A $250 10/07/08
Synergy Business Management Article 1-A $250 10/07/08
Tadis, LLC Article 1-A $250 12/02/08
Tobman, Michael Article 1-A $250 12/02/08
Westchester Industrial Devp. Agency Article 1-A $250 12/02/08
Western NY Care Coordination Program Article 1-A $250 10/07/08
Working Families Organization Article 1-A $250 10/07/08

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