Monday, March 12, 2012

Lobbying with Taxpayer Money

A controversy has arisen on the federal level that might be familiar to those of you who have followed the fight at Willets Point: lobbying with tax payer money. As the Daily Caller has reported the federal government has allocated stimulus grants to groups for the purpose of lobbying local governments to enact anti-obesity programs:

"The idea of government money going toward efforts to lobby the government sounds like some type of joke, but it’s not. Since March 2010, 30 states and Washington, D.C. have received $230 million in obesity prevention grants under the Communities Putting Prevention to Work Initiative (CPPW), a program established in the massive 2009 stimulus bill, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act."

HHS Secretary Sebelius defends the practice by claiming that the money isn't being used to lobby the federal government. But other law makers say that this is still not Kosher:

"According to Kentucky Republican Reps. Ed Whitfield and Brett Guthrie, lobbying with taxpayer money is illegal regardless of the level of government. In a letter the pair sent to Sebelius last week they cited multiple federal laws which prohibit the use of tax dollars to lobby any level of government. For instance, they referenced Title 18 of the U.S. Code, Section 1913, which states:

“No part of the money appropriated by any enactment of Congress shall, in the absence of express authorization by Congress, be used directly or indirectly to pay for any personal service, advertisement, telegram, telephone, letter, printed or written matter, or other device, intended or designed to influence in any manner a Member of Congress, a jurisdiction, or an official of any government, to favor, adopt, or oppose, by vote or otherwise, any legislation, law, ratification, policy or appropriation …”

This of course makes sense since lobbying is by definition a partisan activity that benefits some at the expense of others-which is precisely why Section 1411 of the NY State not for profit law expressly prohibits the lobbying use of tax payer funds by these publicly supported groups. It's a no brainer!

Apparently, however, no brains is exactly the problem suffered by the last two occupants of the NYS AG's Office:Andrew Cuomo and Eric Schneiderman. Neither man can take the investigation of the illegal lobbying done by Claire Shulman's LDC to its proper conclusion: the disbanding of a group that was improperly set up by NYC EDC to lobby in contravention of the law.

Shulman's operation was extraordinarily successful-she was the linchpin of the approval process in 2008. So what the AGs have through their nonfeasance is to approve of the illegal use of tax payer money to deprive small land owners of their property-an indication that the rule of law is a selective process in this state; and will not be applied to those deemed too important by the political sensitive law enforcement officers. What a travesty of justice!