By Alex Distefano
By Scott Snowden
By Anna Merlan
By Steve Almond
By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
The Cordo firms most recent filing with the states Public Integrity Commission lists Cunningham and Cordo as the new lobbyists for Genting, the Asian gaming company that won the scandal-ridden and extraordinarily lucrative Aqueduct casino contract. SKDKnickerbocker , a public relations firm where Cunningham also works, is now also handling press inquiries for Genting, an indication, perhaps, that the big spenders can smell the perfume.
Chris Del Giudice, the son of Mario Cuomos former secretary and Andrews current top policy adviser, Mike Del Giudice, recently joined Wilson Elser, the firm that always takes first place in the New York Public Interest Groups annual revenue and campaign contribution rankings. So did Jerry Jennings, the son of Albanys mayor, another reliable Cuomo ally. Wilson Elser, which hosted two receptions for Cuomo since 2008 and gave $68,856 to him, did an intimate fundraiser for him last fall in the ninth-floor conference room at its Albany office. Then Cuomo went to the Fort Orange Club, the gothic, wood-paneled, male-and-pale deal mausoleum, where he was introduced by the senior Jennings to an overflowing crowd of handlers and wirepullers.
In fact, its stunning how many leftovers from the Mario days are lobbyists and major Andrew donors nowTonio Burgos, Jerry Weiss, Rick Ostroff, Pat Brown and his partner, David Weinraub. James Featherstonhaugh, the legendary 66-year-old dean of Albany lobbyists who represented Mario Cuomo personally in civil litigation, and was subsequently represented by Marios law firm, has taken on an Andrew aide, Frank Hoare, as a new partner. Burgos was Marios appointments secretary, and Weiss created the law firm Andrew ended up joining. Brown was a highly respected senior counsel to Mario Cuomo for many years. Weinraub and Ostroff, now at competing lobbying firms, ran intergovernmental affairs for Mario. This pack from the past combined to donate $213,080 to Andrews coffers since 2008.
Charlie King, the former top aide to Andrew at HUD who took a leave from his own two small lobbying outfits to serve as Cuomos executive director of the state party during this campaign, may return to his companies or to Bolton St. Johns, one of the states premier firms where he once worked. King was Andrews running mate in his failed 2002 bid for governor, and partnered for years with Al Sharpton, who has functioned as a lobbyist in David Patersons Albany without registering as one, collecting hundreds of thousands in state-connected donations to the National Action Network that he and King ran. King is a Cuomo and Sharpton loyalist, well positioned to become one of Albanys most significant minority lobbyists.
The other Al, former Republican senator Al DAmato, has tried to position himself as a key Cuomo ally, denouncing Carl Paladino as not fit to serve at the outset of the general election campaign. DAmato sees himself as the kingmaker in picking the next GOP state chair after the election, and as an intermediary between Cuomo and the new Senate Republican majority. He hung on to his Republican credentials by loudly championing Dan Donovan, the partys losing candidate for attorney general, even as he embraced Cuomo and Kirsten Gillibrand, the Democratic senator whose father, Doug Rutnik, is an Albany lobbyist himself and a longtime DAmato and Featherstonhaugh sidekick.
DAmato recruited former Staten Island Congressman Vito Fossella as a new partner in his Park Strategies lobbying firm at the same time that Fossella was featuring Paladino, rather than Rick Lazio, at a pre-primary rally in Staten Island against the so-called Ground Zero mosque. That September 11 appearance, combined with the timing of DAmatos post-primary denunciations of Paladino, may be the best indicators that Cuomo wanted to face Paladino, a deck DAmato helped stack.
When DAmato was in the senate and was the states official top Republican, and Mario Cuomo was the states top Democrat, the two had what Senator Patrick Moynihan called a nonaggression pact, with DAmato serving up weak Republican challengers for governor in 1986 and 1990. As the unofficial leader of the party now, whose connections help bankroll it, DAmato may hope to use that leverage to establish a similar tie to the son.
The DAmato firms stable of prominent Republicans includes the son of Congressman Peter King (a potential formidable Cuomo opponent), the ex- Erie County executive Joel Giambra, and Fossella, whose career was undercut by the DUI-related revelations of a second, Washington-area, family. While DAmato, who was once famously paid $500,000 for a single call to a state official, is not listed as a Cuomo donor. But his partners gave $9000, and DAmato hosted a Cuomo fundraiser. DAmato has also long been closely tied to another lobbying firm, Mercury Public Affairs, and one of its principals, Michael McKeon, ran Cuomos outreach effort to Republicans.
Mel Miller, the former Democratic Assembly speaker, recently joined DAmatos firm as special counsel. Miller sold his firm, Bolton St. Johns, to the staff a couple of years ago. Hed already established a strong DAmato relationship by recruiting Armand DAmato, the senators brother, as Boltons general counsel years earlier. Armand left Bolton to join Park Strategies in 2004, and now the DAmatos have returned the favor.