Commissioner Now Says he is a Commissioner
November 3rd, 2011

Richard Emery now considers himself a member of the Commission on Public Integrity. Earlier this week, though, Emery told me that he was not a commissioner because he believed that when Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed the law creating the Joint Commission on Public Ethics it “terminated” him and his colleagues.

Emery told me this when I asked him about his firm registering to lobby for the Metropolitan Taxi Cab Board of Trade. The registration form at the time had not been made public.

He claimed that his partner had registered as a lobbyist after Cuomo signed the JCOPE law and therefore he believed he was not an ethics commissioner and not doing anything unethical. Later, after claiming he wasn’t a member, he called and left a message telling me that other commissioners have firms that do lobbying before the state.

Today the filing went public on the Commission for Public Integrity’s website and it shows that the contract between Emery’s firm and the Taxi Board was effective Aug. 4. Cuomo signed the bill creating JCOPE on Aug. 15. However, Emery has now changed his tune. I called him today and Emery was aware that he is still a commissioner but argued that it didn’t matter because, “there are a number of commissioners whose firms lobby.” I asked him to name those commissioners but he declined.

Emery told me he was mistaken when we spoke on Tuesday, “Apparently I am [a commissioner] but it doesn’t meet. I assumed we were terminated.”

I then pointed out that contrary to what he said earlier his firm had begun lobbying work before Cuomo signed the JCOPE legislation. “That may well be but we made the determination that we could do this without me being a lobbyist. We were very careful about that,” Emery replied.

So what kind of lobbying work was this?

According to the filing Emery’s firm billed $11,340 in lobbying expenses for one phone call. They were also reimbursed $472 for legal research on July 31. 2011. Expenses for non-lobbying employees was $29,659.

Why would Emery’s name be familiar? Not only was he Sen. Malcolm Smith’s choice to sit on the CPI but he also sits on the State Commission on Judicial Conduct thanks to Smith.

Emery helped Smith out when he was in a bind. Despite being members of the Commission on Public Integrity, Emery and his law partner Andrew Celli both represented Senate Democrats in their legal battles with the Republicans during the 2009 coup. That move put good government groups up in arms but Emery told the Times Union that, “We thought about this a lot before we took the case.”

By on November 3, 2011, 4:03 pm
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