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JCOPE CampFin Complaint

JCOPE CampFin Complaint

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Published by: JimmyVielkind on Oct 30, 2012
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12/04/2012

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BEFORE THE NEW YORK STATE JOINT COMMISSION ON PUBLIC ETHICS

MICHAEL J. REST,

Complainant,

v.

"FRIENDS OF DEMOCRACY" COMMITTEE, THE "PROTECT OUR DEMOCRACY POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEE" AND THE "FAIR ELECTIONS FOR NY" COMMITTEE Respondents.

IN THE MATTER OF AN INVESTIGATION INTO THE "FRIENDS OF DEMOCRACY" COMMITTEE, THE "PROTECT OUR DEMOCRACY . POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEE" AND THE "FAIR ELECTIONS FOR NY" COMMITTEE'S " • FAILURE TO REGISTER AS A LOBBYIST AND FAILURE TO REPORT LOBBYING EXPENSES CONCERNING CAMPIGN FINANCE LEGISLATION

INTRODUCTION The (Complainant) hereby files this complaint requesting an investigation and

enforcement action concerning illegal lobbying in violation-of New York State's Lobbying Act by the "Friends of Democracy." committee, the "Protect our Democracy Political Action Committee" and the "Fair Elections for NY" committee. Complainant respectfully urges

the New York State Joint Commission on Public Ethics (the "Commission") to commence an investigation of the ""Friends of Democracy" committee, the "Protect our Democracy Political Action Committee" and the "Fair Elections for NY" committee's failure to register and report lobbying activities and expenditures for 2011-2012.in violation of Article 1-A of the Legislative Law entitled the Lobby Act. Beginning at least as early as the beginning of 2012 and continuing to date, there is reason to believe the "Friends of Democracy" committee, the "Protect our Democracy Political Action Committee" and the "Fair Elections for NY" committee have been illegally lobbying in New York concerning legislation affecting Campaign Finance Reform. FACTS GIVING RISE TO THIS COMPLAINT
According to published news accounts, ""Friends of Democracy" committee, the "Protect our Democracy Political Action Committee" and the "Fair Elections for NY" committee are engaging in activity intended to influence the passage of legislation. The stated claim of such entities is to influence members of the legislature to pass certain legislation introduced in the '2011-2012 Legislation pertaining to Campaign Finance (including but not limited to S7036B / A9885D) and to influence the passage and "intended

introduction" of such other related legislation.

"Friends of Democracy" committee, the

"Protect our Democracy Political Action Committee" and the "Fair Elections for NY" committee have stated such intent and have taken action, towards such intent in which in excess of $5,000 in reportable expenses have been incurred. Such intent and action is partially evidenced by filings on record with the NYS Board of Elections in whi'ch expenses have been reported for such actions as retaining government relations counsel and legal counsel. Further evidencing the extensive unreported reportable expenses incurred by these three lobbying entities can be found by a review of their websites which include extensive detailing of their lobbying activities and calls to action, (see;

w\vw.fairelectionsny.org;www.protectourdemocracy.com;www,fri endsofdemocracypac.org) Furthermore, a review of the filings of record with Joint Commission on Public Ethics reveal that "Friends of Democracy" committee, the "Protect our Democracy Political Action Committee" and the "Fair Elections for NY" committee have not registered, filed or disclosed to and with Joint Commission on Public Ethics, There are sufficient facts in the record to commence an investigation by the Commission of "Friends of Democracy" committee, the "Protect our Democracy Political Action Committee" and the "Fair Elections for NY" committee's failure to register and report lobbying activity in 2012 in violation of §l-e and §l-h of the Lobby Act.

JURISDICTION OF THE COMMISSION
The Commission is authorized by subdivision 12 and 13 of § 94 of the Executive Law to commence inquiries into possible violations of Article 1-A of the Legislative Law. Pursuant to Executive Law §94(13), the Commission is authorized to conduct any

investigation necessary to carry out the provisions of .Legislative Law Article 1-A. Pursuant to this power and duty, the Commission may administer oaths or affirmations, subpoena witnesses, compel their attendance and require the production of any books or records that it may deem relevant or material. When the Commission determines there has been a violation of the Legislative Law Article 1-A, it authorizes the Commission to assess a civil penalty in an amount not to exceed the greater of twenty-five thousand dollars or three times the amount the person failed to report properly. The Commission may also.refer a violation of Article 1-A of the Legislative Law to an appropriate prosecutor which, upon conviction, shall be punishable as class A misdemeanor. Executive Law §94(12)(b) provides that if the Commission determines that there is reasonable cause to believe that a violation of Article 1-A of the Legislative Law has occurred, the Commission shall send a notice of reasonable cause: (i) to the reporting individual or (ii) to the complainant, if any. The "Friends of Democracy" committee, the

"Protect our Democracy Political Action Committee" and the "Fair Elections for NY" committee have not registered as lobbyists or clients in New York State during the relevant time period. FAILURE TO REGISTER AND REPORT EXPENDITURES AS A LOBBYIST PURSUANT TO 81-e and §l~h OF THE LOBBY ACT A. The New York State Lobbying Act

The Lobby Act requires registration by all entities engaged in lobbying activity; § 1-e. Statement of registration, (a) (1) Every lobbyist shall annually file with the commission, on forms provided by the commission, a statement of registration for each calendar year...,"
Only lobbyists are required to register under the Act. A "lobbyist" is defined under the §l-c

(a) and provides, "The term''lobbyist' shall mean every person or organization retained, employed or designated by any client to engage in lobbying,,.." The Act defines "lobbying" under §l-c (c) providing: The term 'lobbying' or 'lobbying activities' shall mean any attempt to influence: p) the passage or defeat of any legislation by either hous'e of the state legislature or approval or disapproval of any legislation by the governor including but not limited to the introduction or intended introduction of s,uch legislation or resolution or approval or disapproval of any legislation by the governor; (ii) the adoption, issuance, rescission, modification or terms of a gubernatorial executive order; (iii) the adoption or rejection of any rule or regulation .having the force and effect of law by a state agency; (iv) the outcome of any rate making proceeding by a state agency; (v) any determination: (A) by a public official, or by a person or entity working in cooperation with a public official related to a governmental procurement, or (B) by an officer or employee of the unified court system, or by a person or entity working in cooperation with an officer or employee of the unified court system related to a governmental procurement; (vi) the approval, disapproval, implementation or administration of tribal-state compacts, memoranda of understanding, or any other tribal-state agreements and any other state actions related to Class III gaming as provided in 25 U.S.C. § 2701, except to the extent designation of such activities as "lobbying" is barred by the federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, by a public official or by a person or entity working in cooperation with a public official in relation to such approval, disapproval, implementation or administration; (vii) the passage or defeat of any local law, ordinance, resolution, or regulation by any municipality or subdivision thereof; (viii) the adoption, issuance, rescission, modification or terms of an executive

order issued by the chief executive officer of a municipality; (ix) the adoption or.rejection of any rule, regulation, or resolution having the force and effect of a local law, ordinance, resolution, or regulation; or

(x) the outcome of any rate making proceeding by any municipality or subdivision thereof. The Commission is the regulatory body charged with determining' if registration is or was required by the aforementioned entities.

CONCLUSION There is reasonable cause to believe based on the record evidence that "Friends of Democracy" committee, the "Protect our Democracy Political Action Committee" and the "Fair Elections for NY" committee have failed to register as a lobbyist and report all of its expenses incurred as part of its lobbying efforts for the year 2012 in violation of Article 1-A of the Legislative Law entitled the Lobby Act. Complainants urge the Commission to investigate the relevant facts. If the Commission determines violations have occurred, it should take any and all steps necessary to safeguard and protect the public's interest, Section 1-a expressly states the statute's purpose, namely, "responsible democratic government requires that the fullest opportunity to be afforded to the people . . . to persevere and maintain the integrity of the governmental decision-making process in this state[.]"

Respectfully Submitted,

I3

V -

K-&S/

being duly sworn, have read the foregoing complaint in

its entirety, including any additional pages, and to the best of my knowledge, or based upon information and belief, believe it to be true. I also understand the -intentional submission of false information may constitute a crime punishable by fine or imprisonment of both.

Signature

Sworn to before rne thi$=K 7 day of October 2012

JANET M.KQRR1S Notary PubJIc, Shte of New Yorit Qwrrfted in Albany County No. 5069963 Cammisston Expires Dec. 9,

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