Fixer Fonz

The Ex-Senator Brags About Bonanzas, Hides Behind Pataki

Don't expect Pataki or Bruno to confess that they and their mentor Alfonse had a good laugh together over the fiasco. But one measure of how orchestrated it may well have been was the testimony in early June of Peter Kalikow, the developer who's now MTA chair, at an assembly hearing called by Richard Brodsky, whose investigation put D'Amato's fee center stage. Kalikow, who is so close to D'Amato that he used Kalikow's Manhattan apartment as his legal address when he entered the Senate in 1981, rejected Brodsky's attempts to get him to criticize the D'Amato call or support lobbying reform.

"I don't know what the facts are," said Kalikow, who was D'Amato's finance chair throughout the Senate years. "But I can't just say that $500,000 is wrong because we have to decide what it gets for us. We spend much more than that in litigation fees." As usual, the two lifelong friends were on precisely the same page. On NY1, the only defense D'Amato offered was that his fee might've saved the MTA from "a very costly suit" that would've "cost the MTA a lot of money."

Every time Brodsky tried to get Kalikow to back any specific lobbying reform, the cagey Kalikow would duck and weave, saying things like "I don't know whether this becomes more cumbersome than the problem it needs to solve." Asked about making contingency fees like D'Amato's illegal—80 percent of his half-million-dollar fee was paid as a bonus because he got the MTA to back off its objections to the refinancing—Kalikow said, "Coming from the business world, I think people should be rewarded for success."

Brodsky revealed that the MTA's own reorganization bill has a brief disclosure requirement, followed by "30 lines of exceptions," and that Kalikow's staff conceded it would not cover the Alfonse call. Since D'Amato's lobbying firm is a tenant at 101 Park—the office tower Kalikow owns and works out of—it's pretty hard to imagine that they never discussed D'Amato's supposed commitment to lobbying disclosure, but maybe the two old friends just disagree.

Padavan, a straight arrow on this issue whose proposed reforms have been even stronger than the assembly's, told the Voice that he believes the senate would've passed his bill had it ever come to the floor. He delicately tries to take seriously Pataki's interest in judicial reform but says he "would've liked to see the governor take my bill and tie it into judicial reform," adding, "I don't know why he didn't do that."

Maybe because it might've become law.


Research assistance: Michael Anstendig, Zoe Alsop, Ross Goldberg, Phineas Lambert, Naomi Lindt, Brittany Schaeffer, and Jessica Silver-Greenberg

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