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ALBANY - Lobbyists who are paid to influence government spending and policy posted another record year in 2015 with $243 million spent, according to an annual report released Thursday.
Half of the big money lobbying involved education: A so-far unapproved tax credit that could help nonpublic schools, charter school expansion, and more aid for traditional public schools.
“The Empire State’s influence peddlers have had a banner year,” said Blair Horner of the New York Public Interest Research Group. “Lobbying in New York is clearly a recession-proof industry.”
In all, 6,119 lobbyists spent 17 percent more to lobby state and local governments than in 2014, according to the state Joint Commission on Public Ethics.
Park Strategies, a firm founded by former Sen. Alfonse D’Amato, dropped to the sixth among lobbying companies based on total compensation, from second place in 2014. Each year the firm collected about $7 million. The Bolton St. Johns firm rose to third, with $8.3 million in compensation, from fifth place in 2014, when it collected $6.9 million in compensation. One the top lobbyists for Bolton St. Johns is Giorgio DeRosa, father of Melissa DeRosa, who is the chief of staff to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo.
Patricia Lynch Associates, a firm founded by a former top aide to former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, dropped out of the top 10 firms in 2015. In 2014, Patricia Lynch’s firm handled $4.2 million in total compensation.
The lobbying firm with the most compensation remained Wilson Elser Moskowitz Edelman & Dicker. It reported $10.5 million in total compensation in 2015, down from $11.2 million in 2014.
Other lobbying entities are created for specific efforts. The Invest in Education Coalition that supported a proposed education tax credit to benefit private and religious schools was tops among these groups. It spent $5 million in 2015, up from $1.2 million the year before, according to the report.
The New York State United Teachers union was No. 2 in 2015, having spent $4.6 million. It was also the second biggest spender in 2014, when it spent $3.2 million
The third biggest spender in 2015 was the New York City and Vicinity Carpenters Labor Management Corp., spending $3 million. It hadn’t cracked the top 10 in 2014.
The Greater New York Hospital Association was fourth in 2015 after spending $2.7 million, slightly more than in 2014.
The StudentsFirst New York group that supports charter schools, which are privately operated public schools, was the fifth biggest in 2015 with $2.4 million in expenditures, after not making the top 10 in 2014.
Dropping out of the top 10 in 2015 were the Trial Lawyers Association, AARP, the Public Employees Federation union, and the No More Casinos Coalition.