Report: Lobbying earnings up for LI firms

Former New York Sen. Alfonse D'Amato endorses Dina

Former New York Sen. Alfonse D'Amato endorses Dina DeGiorgio as she announces her candidacy for supervisor for the Town of North Hempstead at a fundraising event in Port Washington. (April 18, 2013) (Credit: Danielle Finkelstein)

ALBANY - Former Sen. Alfonse D'Amato's firm, Park Strategies, climbed into the ranks of the top 10 lobbying businesses in New York in 2012 in terms of the number of clients.

After absorbing an Albany-based firm increased its clients from 46 in 2011 to 79 last year, Park Strategies rose to ninth place in total clients among lobbying firms registered in New York, according the state's annual lobbying report.

The company's revenue was $3.7 million in 2012 -- eighth-most in the state -- slightly up from $3.3 million the previous year.

All told, more than 20 Long Island lobbyists or those with deep local ties earned about $8.9 million in 2012, about a 3 percent annual increase, a review of records shows.

Statewide, spending on lobbying totaled $205 million last year, a 7 percent decrease from the year before, according to the Joint Commission on Public Ethics. A significant drop in advertising spending by lobbying groups drove the decline, while fees paid to lobbyists increased 5 percent from the year before.

"It's certainly not a shrinking business. It seems there are new names every year," said Arthur "Jerry" Kremer, a former state assemblyman who heads Empire Government Strategies, the fifth-largest Island-affiliated lobbying firm with $469,000 in lobbying fees in 2012.

Kremer said the amount spent on lobbying is just a fraction of the business for many firms, which typically provide an array of consulting services. "We're busier than ever," he said.

Manhattan-based Park Strategies, which has an office in Uniondale, was even more active.

The D'Amato firm last year absorbed Capitol Public Strategies, an Albany-based firm headed by former Pataki administration officials. The merger not only grew the company's client list but also increased its State Capitol and upstate presence, other lobbyists and watchdogs said.

 

Merger's 'heavy footprint'

"The merger of these major players brings a dynamic and heavy footprint to the Albany lobbying community, a classic case of where the sum will be greater than their individual parts," said Dick Dadey of Citizens Union, which monitors lobbying and other issues.

The firm's biggest client was Veolia Transportation Services, an Illinois firm that now runs Nassau County's bus service. Veolia, long a D'Amato client, paid Park $270,000 last year.

Other major clients included Gateway Casino Resorts ($180,000), the company working with the Shinnecock Nation to develop a Long Island casino; Extended Home Care, a long-term health care company ($150,000); LaGuardia Airport ($105,000); and Nassau Off-Track Betting Corp. ($96,000). (Nassau OTB regularly retains other lobbyists, too; it spent $180,000 on lobbying in 2012.)

Park also represented Nassau Health Care Corp. ($65,000) during a year it unsuccessfully tried to get state legislative approval to refinance its debt, and SRC ($105,000), a Syracuse-based company that sought state aid to redevelop a Rochester mall.

In an emailed statement, D'Amato said he was proud of the company's "continued success."

"Businesses on Long Island and across the state have recognized that our team at Park Strategies has tremendous professional experience in a wide range of interests -- ranging from insurance, tax policy, and banking, to energy, health care, and local government," D'Amato said.

 

LI firms, by the numbers

No other firm with Island ties topped $1 million. Meyer, Suozzi, English and Klein earned $918,125, the first time in recent years it didn't record at least $1 million. Its largest client was the Shinnecock Nation ($101,000).

Robert A. Ungar Associates, a Garden City firm that primarily represents unions and contractors, ranked No. 3 among local firms with $792,468, according to the report, which was released March 28. Ungar reported about $640,000 in lobby billings in 2011.

The company with Long Island ties that spent the most on lobbying was Cablevision. It spent $935,328, a slight decrease from the two previous years. Cablevision is the parent company of Newsday. According to its filings, Cablevision lobbied on a range of laws including labor, telecommunication, Internet privacy and franchising.

Glenwood Management Corp. ranked No. 2 with $798,000, up from $704,000 the year before. The New Hyde Park-based real-estate company, headed by Leonard Litwin, lobbied on land-use, environmental regulations, and housing and rental laws, among other things. Litwin, through dozens of Glenwood subsidiaries, has contributed $500,000 to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo since 2010, according to the New York Public Interest Research Group.

Statewide, no group spent more than the Committee to Save New York. The deep-pocketed business group allied with Cuomo spent $4.2 million in 2012 to promote the Democrat's agenda. This was the second consecutive year the group led all lobby spending.

Exxon Mobil ranked No. 2 with $2.106 million, followed by Major League Soccer LLC, which spent $2.102 million advocating for a new stadium in Flushing, Queens.

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