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Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Legal Fees Rule, Ethics Be Damned

Skelos dummies up on law-cash ethics
The New York Post by Fredric U. Dicker  -  May 16, 2011

The state's most powerful Republi can is refusing to reveal whether he's earning legal fees from clients who do business with the state, a practice Gov. Cuomo says could involve conflicts of interest or even bribery.  Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, over a four-day period, repeatedly ducked and dodged after The Post asked the simple question of whether he's representing legal clients who have business before state government.  The Nassau County-based Skelos, who works for Ruskin Moscou Faltischek, a major Long Island law firm that represents dozens of powerful businesses before state agencies, voluntarily revealed last year that he was paid as much as $250,000 in private legal fees in 2009, when he was Senate minority leader.  But now that he's majority leader, he won't say how much he was paid in 2010 or how much he's been paid this year -- when he holds a far more powerful position.  Skelos also refuses to name his clients.  Cuomo is aggressively seeking legislation to force Skelos and other lawmakers to disclose the names of all clients who have business before the state. Skelos is widely seen as determined to kill the measure.  Cuomo and good-government groups warn that a form of bribery is possible as long as special-interest groups can funnel large legal fees to lawmakers who control legislation in which they have an interest.  "The question is: Who do your legislators work for?" Cuomo said last week, in part with Skelos in mind.  "You have a right to know. I want sweeping ethics reform that will require disclosure of clients legislators represent before the state and [require them to] disclose how much they get paid."  Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan), another powerful legislator with an active private law practice, told The Post he was prepared to disclose what Skelos would not.  Silver said he could declare "unequivocally" that he does not represent any clients -- individual, business or corporate -- with Albany business.  "I represent nobody who does business with the state.  Unequivocally, no," said Silver, who earns an undisclosed income -- estimated by some at $1 million a year -- from the personal-injury law firm Weitz & Luxenberg.   Meanwhile, eyebrows were raised at the Capitol when it was revealed that David Lewis, Skelos' $140,000-a-year "part-time" counsel, was representing disgraced ex-Sen. Vincent Leibell, who was sentenced Friday to 21 months in federal prison after admitting he had accepted kickbacks, engaged in tax evasion and sought to influence a grand jury.  "The Senate Republicans send one of their highest-paid lawyers to defend public corruption while Gov. Cuomo is working to clean it up," charged Senate Democratic spokesman Austin Shafran.  Skelos spokeswoman Kelly Cummings called Lewis "a trusted aide and superb attorney who has the energy necessary to serve the majority leader, as well as to maintain a well-respected outside law practice."


Anonymous said...

I object to any story that mentions the name Shelly Silver and ETHICS in the same piece.

Anonymous said...

I object to any story that mentions the name Shelly Silver and ETHICS in the same piece.

Anonymous said...

Another Fred U.Dicker shill piece for Cuomo. Note how glorious Prince Andrew shines, Freddy Boy, seems to have misplaced all the notes about contributions to Candidate Cuomo by Law firms with actions against the State. Freddy Boy takes the words of Sheldon Silver as truth? Albany doesn't need more ethics reforms; it needs criminal prosecutions. Oh wait, Freddy Boy forgot to report His Andrew hasn't yet authorized the new Attorney General to prosecute in the AEG scandal. Freddy Boy, the notes about AEG are in your circular file. And Freddy Boy, shilling for Cuomo is one thing, but shilling for Sheldon might be the bottom.

Anonymous said...

who is the skel covering for?

Anonymous said...

Don't blame me, I voted for the Hooker.

Duffy said...

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See Video of Senator John L. Sampson's 1st Hearing on Court 'Ethics' Corruption

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               Video of 1st Hearing on Court 'Ethics' Corruption
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