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Former lobbyist fined by city over lobbying violation

A now-former lobbyist for the Long Island Board of Realtors has been fined for violating New York City’s revolving-door prohibition by lobbying the City Council too soon after leaving her government job, according to the municipal ethics board.

Jahneille Edwards agreed to an $8,000 fine — $7,000 of which was forgiven due to her claim of financial hardship — for scheduling meetings with, lobbying or phoning council members and their staff, the city’s Conflicts of Interest Board announced on Tuesday.

Edwards worked for city Councilman Donovan Richards (D-Queens) from 2013 until May 2015, when she began working as a “legislative liaison” for the realtor board. Within weeks, she said in a signed affidavit to the city’s ethics board, she began contacting council members’ offices, including that of her former boss.

According to the affidavit, in one meeting with her former boss, Edwards “voiced various complaints of LIBOR members and discussed foreclosure recovery and housing discrimination regulations.”

New York City’s revolving-door law bars contact between public servants and their former agencies for at least a year after leaving a job. The law is meant to prevent former municipal employees from working their connections and insider knowledge to secure favorable treatment.

In an interview Tuesday, Edwards told Newsday that a friend brought the violation to her attention, and that “upon finding out that I was in violation, I self-reported.” Edwards said she’s currently not working and is caring for her child.

Long Island Board of Realtors marketing and communications director Tricia Chirco declined to comment except to confirm that Edwards worked there from May 11, 2015, until Oct. 28, 2015. The board is a 20,000-member trade association that serves the real estate industry throughout Nassau, Suffolk and Queens.

Richards said that Edwards worked for him as a community liaison, and he added he doesn’t believe his former employee willfully broke the law.

“I’m sure she didn’t know,” Richards said Tuesday. “She’s good people.”

Also Tuesday, the board announced that a now-retired city public school teacher got fined for “perpetrating a fraudulent scheme” in which he inflated work-study students’ time sheets in exchange for a kickback of the ill-gotten proceeds.

In addition, a laborer for the city’s child-welfare agency was suspended for using his city-issued procurement credit card to make $71,000 in purchases from a 99-cent store he co-owns with his father. In levying only a 15-day unpaid suspension, the board noted that his boss knew about the ownership interest in the store and also approved the purchases.

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