Development Corps Illegally Lobbied City Council: AG
July 3rd, 2012
Three local development corporations illegally lobbied City Council members in 2008 and 2009 to promote development projects in Willets Point and Coney Island, the state attorney general says.
Attorney General Eric Schneiderman today announced a settlement with the city’s Economic Development Corporation, Flushing-Willets Point-Corona Local Development Corporation and the Coney Island Development Corporation. The settlement included provisions to increase transparency and reduce loopholes through which these organizations lobbied New York City officials. However, no fine or other punishment was meted out.
Members of the groups ghostwrote op-eds and prepared testimony in order to create the appearance of a grassroots movement in favor of development projects they were backing, the attorney general said. Influencing legislation is barred by statute for local development corporations.
“These local development corporations flouted the law by lobbying elected officials, both directly and through third parties, to win approval of their favored projects,” Schneiderman said in a press release. “This agreement will bring greater transparency, and ensure accountability for these and other local development corporations operating in New York State.”
The agreement includes mandatory compliance training for local development corporation employees, more public disclosure of interaction between these corporations and reminders that it is illegal to lobby the Council regarding development projects, even indirectly.
The EDC will be restructuring to remove the organization’s local development corporation status to avoid further violations.
“The New York City Economic Development Corporation intends to undertake a restructuring, the primary effect of which will be to allow the company to remain a not-for-profit corporation, but to cease to be a local development corporation,” Patrick Muncie, an EDC spokesman, said in a statement. “As discussed with the New York State Attorney General, NYCEDC is currently taking all appropriate steps to effectuate this restructuring.”
City Comptroller John Liu described the restructuring as a long time coming.
“While these revelations of illegal lobbying are alarming, we cannot say that they come as a surprise,” Liu said in a later release. “New York City’s economic development process is in dire need of greater transparency, accountability, and inclusiveness, something EDC’s current culture fails to provide.”By Nina Goldman on July 3, 2012, 2:29 pm
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