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Albany lobbyists in line

Gov. Kathy Hochul speaks after taking her ceremonial

Gov. Kathy Hochul speaks after taking her ceremonial oath of office at the New York State Capitol on Tuesday in Albany. Credit: Getty Images/Michael M. Santiago

Daily Point

Bolton’s boldface names

Every power transition in Albany prompts insider buzz about which lobbying, public relations and consulting companies are "in" or "out." With the onset of the Hochul administration, a flurry of attention falls on the firm Bolton-St. Johns and its Albany pedigree.

The entity was the mid-1990s creation of the late Mel Miller, who was ejected as Assembly speaker in 1991 when convicted on federal charges of cheating law clients out of profits. Miller was subsequently cleared by an appellate division panel that found his actions in the complicated case were not illegal.

So Miller and his former aide Norman Adler created the company, whose name derives from the streets they grew up on — Bolton Street in the Bronx for Adler and St. Johns Place in Brooklyn for Miller. The ex-speaker died in 2019, years after he and Adler sold what had become a major firm to new partners. For a time he was with Park Strategies, the firm of former U.S. Sen. Alfonse D’Amato.

Bolton’s boldface names have changed. Emily Giske, a member of the Democratic National Committee as well as vice chair of the State Democratic Party — and a political supporter of Gov. Kathy Hochul — is one of the partners now running Bolton-St. Johns with its mix of clients from business, labor and the nonprofit world. Another partner there is Giorgio DeRosa, father of Melissa DeRosa, who was a top aide to ex-Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo. The elder DeRosa and son Joseph DeRosa, also with Bolton-St. Johns, were listed as lobbying the Cuomo administration for clients a few months ago.

Melissa DeRosa’s successor in the key post as secretary to the governor is Karen Persichilli Keogh, whose husband Mike Keogh is a partner at Bolton after years in key policy posts in New York City government. (A few others in the firm know both Keoghs from long-ago roles in the New York City Council during the speakership of Peter Vallone of Queens.)

For her part, Hochul has said there will be "recusals" in response to potential conflicts including her spouse Bill Hochul’s role as senior vice president, general counsel and secretary for Delaware North Companies, Inc., a hospitality and food service company. According to an annual report from the state’s Joint Commission on Public Ethics checked by The Point, Delaware North paid the Bolton firm $150,000 for lobbying in 2019.

Given what may be a tangle of connections, Hochul is expected to announce more about how the ethical lines for her office will be drawn going forward.

— Dan Janison @Danjanison

Talking Point

Women who stepped up to the plate

When Kathy Hochul took office Monday she became the 45th woman in history to lead a state and the 219th governor to take over due to resignation.

She’s the 10th governor to come to power in New York due to a resignation, and when she blazed the trail she finally took New York off the list of states that have never had a female governor, which now dwindles down to 19.

And how South Carolina, Alabama, Louisiana, Texas, Kentucky and 25 other states beat theoretically progressive New York to this feat could probably be a book in itself.

The history and the statistics on all such ascensions are fascinating, but they don’t tell us much about how Hochul will fare, in office or in her 2022 election bid.

Of the 219 governors who got the job without an election, a whopping 166 were because the governor left for another elective or appointive office. Just 16 were resignations due to allegations of impropriety, while 37 came about for a variety of other reasons, including illness.

Hochul is also the 11th woman in the United States to become governor due to a predecessor leaving midterm, so The Point wondered how these governors did electorally afterward (the first female governor, Nellie Tayloe Ross of Wyoming, actually won a special election in 1925 after her governor husband died).

Vesta Roy, of New Hampshire, served just seven days when the incumbent died just before leaving office. Nancy Hollister, of Ohio, served just 11 days under similar circumstances. Neither had a chance to contest the next term.

Of the remaining eight (we won’t know about Hochul for a while), five won elections to their own term: Jane Dee Hull, Arizona; Jodi Rell, Connecticut; Jan Brewer, Arizona; Kate Brown, Oregon; and Kim Reynolds, Iowa.

The three who were not elected to their own terms were Rose Mofford, Arizona; Jane Swift, Massachusetts, and Olene Walker, Utah.

But none of those three ran for the term directly following their succession.

So while Hochul could look at reams of data and history in the hope of forecasting her future, one single and simple point stands out.

No woman who stepped up to become governor midterm and sought election in the next cycle has ever lost that bid.

— Lane Filler @lanefiller

Pencil Point

A sore throat

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Final Point

Closing the book

To mark the end of Andrew Cuomo’s governorship in New York, The Point took a look back at Michael Shnayerson’s 2015 Cuomo biography "The Contender," published in a different era for the 56th governor. He was, at the time, sufficiently well-positioned as a high-profile moderate that the last chapter mused about him having a "springboard to national office"-- though it was one that even then, with the rise of Hillary Clinton and later Joe Biden, was eluding him.

Here are other highlights from the book’s deep-dive into Cuomo’s life story that have relevance today:

  • Though it was the sexual harassment allegations in a report from the attorney general’s office that brought Cuomo down this summer, the former governor had benefited from scandals of a sexual nature multiple times, starting when Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Henry Cisneros stepped aside due to issues about payments to a mistress.
  • "In the first of what would be three similar turning points," Shnayerson writes, "the occupant of a higher office Andrew coveted would be forced to leave because of personal peccadilloes, and Andrew would have the luck to be next in line."
  • The other two were Govs. Eliot Spitzer and David Paterson, of course, but he also benefited from the problems of Jeanine Pirro, his GOP opponent for attorney general, whose husband was convicted on tax evasion charges.
  • "Andrew is a very lucky guy," says a Spitzer prosecutor. "At every stage he benefits from sex."
  • The book depicts Cuomo as close to his brother Chris, who was involved in advising the governor through the recent allegations of sexual harassment, according to the report by the attorney general’s office. Chris’ own career has been threatened by Cuomo critics in the aftermath.
  • Cuomo is coming off the public payroll and in need of a job for the first time in years, a situation he faced after his 2002 gubernatorial bid. Then, he decided to sign up with real estate magnate Andrew Farkas, for work that involved potential mega-marinas for big yachts in places like St. Thomas, Shnayerson explains. Why’d he do it?
  • "Andrew had two top priorities now, and politics wasn’t one of them. He needed money, private-sector money," Shnayerson argues, and he also "needed to disappear, at least from public view."

— Mark Chiusano @mjchiusano

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