Scandal Cash

Adult-Home Barons Purchased Pataki Inside Track

Pataki was reportedly so remote that he also never had a meeting with James Stone, the OMH commissioner he appointed in 1995, until a former adult-home and psychiatric center patient, Andrew Goldstein, pushed Kendra Webdale off a subway platform in 1999. That widely publicized incident forced Pataki to finally come up with full funding for a housing program for the mentally ill launched in the Cuomo era—and supported by then-senator Pataki—that the new governor virtually eliminated from his first, second, and third budgets. The three-year shutdown of new funding for housing, combined with the accelerated reduction of thousands of patients in state-run psychiatric centers, was a boon to adult-home operators, vastly increasing their population.

Lawson insists he had nothing to do with the shift to DOH, an agency where he has long flexed his political muscle. In fact, Tenenbaum says the Lawson breakaway association went out of business within two years, unsuccessful in raising the $28 ceiling. It continued, however, to file as a client of one of Lawson's registered lobbyists through 1998, paying roughly $2000 a month. Schoenberger, Tenenbaum, and others did return to Empire State by 1998, when its executive director left, soon to become the special assistant to the health commissioner.

It's unclear which whisper in what ear produced the policies that have protected and aided an industry that did its best, giving at least $202,426 since 1994, to cozy up to this governor. Cliff Levy has made it depressingly clear, however, that it was the state's most marginalized population—its mentally dysfunctional—that paid the price.

Research assistance: Annachiara Danieli, Jen DiMascio, Peter G.H. Madsen

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