NEW YORK (Legal Newsline) - New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced an agreement on Tuesday with three not-for-profit organizations to resolve allegations that they illegally lobbied New York City officials in relation to development projects.
The New York City Economic Development Corporation, Flushing-Willets Point-Corona Local Development Corporation and the Coney Island Development Corporation allegedly lobbied officials with development projects in the Willets Point section of Queens and in Brooklyn's Coney Island area. The corporations allegedly lobbied the New York City Council to win approval for their favored projects, even though local development corporations are banned by statute from lobbying.
EDC also allegedly played a behind-the-scenes part in the lobbying activities of the other LDCs. EDC is the economic development arm of New York City.
"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. "As a result of today's agreement, these organizations will reform their practices to comply with the law and end lobbying through proxies in the communities they serve. This agreement will bring greater transparency, and ensure accountability for these and other local development corporations operating in New York state."
Under the terms of the agreement, the corporations have been banned from lobbying the city council in relation to development projects, and from employing lobbyists or government relations consultants that participate in the development of third-party communications with the city council to use other LDCs to lobby or lobby indirectly, and are required to engage in compliance training for officers, directors and employees. Additionally, EDC must publicly disclose any funding provided to other LDCs or any overlaps of personnel with other LDCs.
Schneiderman alleged that CIDC, FWPC and EDC lobbied the New York City Council in relation to development projects in Willets Point in 2008 and Coney Island in 2009. The projects required that the city council approve the projects pursuant to the state's Uniform Land Use Review Procedure. The three corporations allegedly took steps to create the appearance of independent, grassroots support for the project by hiding their participation in efforts for community organization. The actions allegedly included ghost-writing op-eds and letters and the preparation of testimony for unaffiliated community members. EDC allegedly orchestrated lobbying activities by the other LDCs as well.