Hospitals. The charges detail a long series of bribes that hospital Chief Executive David Rosen allegedly paid to legislators to gain special treatment from Albany. But Medisys, the parent of Jamaica Hospital, is not unusual in its dependence on state funds for survival. What else but the belief that the payments constituted a small step beyond lobbying can explain the board’s decision to keep Mr. Rosen as CEO even after some of the bribes were first revealed several years ago?
The Walmart case. Opponents of Walmart certainly appeared to have mounted a formidable campaign to block Walmart’s effort to open stores in the city. They have generated enormous media coverage and won the backing of many political figures. Lobbyist Richard Lipsky, in many ways the face of Walmart opposition in the media, didn’t think that was sufficient, diverting a chunk of the money he received from Walmart opponents to Mr. Kruger for his help in the effort.
Real estate interests. One of the most fascinating sections of the charges details Mr. Kruger’s efforts to find state funds to help Forest City Ratner pay for infrastructure improvements at its Atlantic Yards development and at the same time help the firm’s chief government relations executive get money for Brooklyn’s Prospect Park, where his wife served on the board. The U.S. attorney says Mr. Krueger’s efforts were the results of bribes Mr. Lipsky paid him with his retainer from Forest City. This makes two black eyes for Forest City. It won approval for a major mixed-use developments in suburban Yonkers only after a city councilperson changed their vote, which the U.S. attorney charges was in response to a bribe from a Forest City consultants. Forest City has not been charged in either case.
Ethics reform will shine the light on the connection between legislators and lobbyists and other special interests–like hospitals, businesses and unions. It is the only way to strength the line between legal lobbying and illegal bribes. And if ethics reform doesn’t pass, the Moreland Commission is sure to target those who hire lobbyists and consultants as well as the legislators.
Correction: Sen. Carl Kruger made a contribution to Prospect Park at the request of a Forest City Ratner official. The name of the park was misstated in an earlier version of this blog post, published March 14, 2011.
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