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Pro-Cuomo group leads spending by lobbyists

ALBANY -- The business group created to support Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo was again the state's top spender among lobbyists in 2012 -- at more than $4 million -- twice the amount spent by Exxon Mobil Corp. as it tried to win favor for natural gas drilling in upstate New York, state records released yesterday show.

Overall, the Joint Commission on Public Ethics reported lobbying groups spent $205 million trying to influence state spending and legislation through lawmakers and the governor. That's a $15 million drop from 2011.

The Committee to Save New York ranked top spender, followed by Exxon Mobil, Major League Soccer, Albany's powerful teacher and public employee unions, and Wal-Mart Stores.

Reports filed with the commission show the Committee to Save New York lobbied on the state budget, public worker pension changes sought by Cuomo to reduce government costs, and "gaming." The committee received a $2 million donation from a gambling interest in late 2011, less than two months before Cuomo made expansion of casino gambling a centerpiece of his State of the State speech.

The committee's 2012 report shows most of the $4 million it spent was on TV ads and production in the first six months of the year to promote Cuomo's initiatives. The group has legally shielded the identity of most of its earliest and biggest donors.

Exxon Mobil spent $2,106,132 on lobbying last year. Company spokesman Alan Jeffers said most of the money was spent on "public education advertising."

The Cuomo administration is considering whether to allow gas drilling using hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. Environmental groups oppose fracking.

Major League Soccer spent $2,102,910 to lobby officials to build a new pro soccer stadium, in New York City, filings show.

The United Federation of Teachers that operates in New York City spent $1.8 million lobbying state and city officials; the New York State United Teachers union, which operates statewide, spent $1.7 million.

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