Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Lobbyist Industry Still Booming In Albany

Times are tough now for many New Yorkers, but not for the lobbyists that work in and around the state capitol. Despite this recession-depression, the money keeps coming in for our politicians' campaign coffers. That goes double (to say the least) for those who hold the power.

From The Times-Union:

A New York Public Interest Research Groups study shows ticket prices paid to attend political fundraisers by those seeking to influence lawmakers so far hasn't taken a hit in the recession.

At the top of the list released Tuesday is new Senate Majority Malcolm Smith. The Queens Democrat charged up to $25,000 a ticket for a Jan. 26 fundraiser at a trendy downtown Albany restaurant.

At the bottom are minority party lawmakers like Assembly Republican leader and congressional candidate James Tedisco. He charged just $50 a ticket for a fundraiser Saturday at the same restaurant. "At least something is working in Albany," said Blair Horner, NYPIRG's legislative director. "These are fundraising sessions, not legislative sessions."
Whatever you want to call these parties, it is prime-time for lobbyists looking to do their clients' bidding with those that hold power in Albany. When someone is paying $25,000 for a ticket for access to Malcolm Smith, there has to be a nice return for the people that he listens to. Perhaps that's why it is so hard to get the support for the Fair Share Plan as well as real reform in the capitol.

What we need is to put an end to these fundraisers that only afford access to the wealthy few. Instead of $25,000, we need a more equalizing dollar amount, like $5 or $10. If Arizona, Maine and a few other states can have clean elections, then so should New York.