Lobbyists to Save New York
Tuesday, January 18, 2011 - 02:30 PM
The curtain will get pulled back on Cuomo's secret supporters.
The business group called the Committee to Save New York is agreeing to register as a lobbyist under pressure following a TV ad campaign backing Gov. Andrew Cuomo that drew criticism.
The group's spokesman Bill Cunningham confirms the decision.
Registering as a lobbyist will force the group to disclose the amount and sources of its funding and to comply with lobbying rules.
Cuomo, who ran on a platform to reduce the power of special interests in Albany, encouraged people to join the group last week.
The New York Times in Tuesday's editions said the committee was formed at Cuomo's urging after a series of meetings last year. The New York Public Interest Research Group says it's up to the state lobbying board to decide if the group circumvented lobbying rules.
UPDATE: Committee spokesman Bill Cunningham said registering with the Commission on Public Integrity was something they were planning on doing ("If yesterday wasn't a holiday, maybe we would have done it yesterday.")
More importantly, Cunningham said registering with the Commission is not an admission that they're lobbyists. He says the group could be considered "grassroots lobbyists" which would require them to disclose their expenditures, not their donors.
Here's how Cunningham described the difference. Lobbyists meet directly with legislators and discuss specific bills. "Grassroots lobbyists" contact the public and urge them to contact legislators.
Since I had him on the phone, I asked Cunningham if one of his old employers, Mayor Bloomberg, is among the Committees donors. Cunningham said he wasn't sure, and, in general, is not aware of who donates to the group.
Asked if he was curious about who is giving money to the organization he represents, Cunningham said, "No, I'm not."