By Alex Distefano
By Scott Snowden
By Anna Merlan
By Steve Almond
By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
More than 20 years ago, Sheinkopf handled the first successful campaign for Rob Johnson, who is still the Bronx District Attorney. Johnson beat Phil Foglia, the author of the IG report, after a top Foglia associate reportedly tried, unsuccessfully, to get Sheinkopf to do Foglias campaign. That may make this report the first time Sheinkopfs two hats have, over time, become too many to wear, especially when caught in a headwind like AEG. Fisch, oddly, recused himself on this investigation because of his ties to Paterson, who participated in the AEG selection, but took center stage at the press conference unveiling it-an unusual combination.
Foglia, who is so Republican he was picked in 2007 to be the Bronx partys commissioner on the NYC Board of Elections, has failed in a couple of electoral runs, but his well-timed report may have delivered the GOP its biggest 2010 win. Foglia told the Voice that his BOE nomination was stalled by politics and that he became a Republican in the late 90s, running as one for City Council in 2005. The Foglia ties suggest that even a report that gets the Democratic Senate side of a scandal right can, by going light on Senate Republicans and Assembly Democrats, still be a well-timed partisan contract in Albany.
The report quotes another AEG lobbyist, the ubiquitous Cordo, as defending the illicit receipt of the two memos: All I care about is the information, not where it came from. His reasoning? This is lobbying, he explained, which the IG concluded was a clear statement of why lobbyists were antithetical to an objective procurement process, unconcerned about rigging it.
Also prominent in orchestrating the award were Bolton St. Johns and two other lobbyists closely associated with Sheinkopf--Norman Levy, who was Sheinkopfs best man AT his wedding, and Stanley Schlein, a fixer tied to the one-man Senate crime wave, Pedro Espada, who was fined $15,000 in 2008 by the citys Conflict of Interests Board. Schlein told the IG he didnt register as an AEG lobbyist because he was functioning as their counsel, though, said the report, others testified that he played a role as a lobbyist.
Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara has been investigating the aqueduct deal all year, as he has the simultaneous $50 million voting machine contract awarded by the city election board to a company, Election Systems & Software (ES&S), also represented by Sheinkopf and Levy. NYPIRG listings showed that Sheinkopf had the third largest increase in compensation between 2008 and 2009, while Levy was ninth.
Schlein was on the opposite side of the voting machine competition, representing the losing company thats now suing. One source said Schlein was working with John Haggerty, the Republican consultant under indictment for stealing a million in campaign funds from Mayor Bloomberg and a recent top aide to Carl Paladino. Haggerty, who was said to have periodically appeared at the board, did not file as a lobbyist on the deal.
A lobbyist working with Sheinkopf and Levy for ES&S, Anthony Mangone, was arrested by the feds on unrelated bribery charges the day after the January board decision. Jay Savino, the Bronx Republican county leader who nominated Foglia to be the partys commissioner on the Board of Elections, shares an office suite with Mangone and has already been subpoenaed in the case, just one more way these incestuous circles swirl. Foglia says his relationship with Savino is cordial.
Cuomo learned firsthand how pernicious the Albany lobbying game is with his investigation of the other great scandal of the past four yearsthe looting of the states pension fund. Some of the same lobbyists that are tied to AEG made appearances in this clammy chronicle as well.
Norman Levy received a half-million dollars in 2006 payments from Bill Howell, a major pension fund placement agent, and appeared sometimes to be Howells partner in controversial deals with the fund, according to a source familiar with the transactions. Investigators concluded that they were splitting fees, and not disclosing it. The payments to Levy - whose conviction for running a parking-ticket-fixing-scam decades ago was also overturned on appeal - were allegedly tied to his introduction of Howell to a principal of Global Strategies, a consulting firm whose client, Intermedia, was seeking millions in city and state pension fund investments. Howell made the placements and shared the fees with Levy, who appeared to be listed as an employee of one Howell entity. Sheinkopf received payments from Levy shortly after Levy was paid by Howell.
Howell also paid former Liberal Party boss and notoriously influential lobbyist Ray Harding another half-million. Unlike Howell and Levy, Harding was indicted on charges associated with these and other payments. In his guilty plea, Harding refers to the payments Howell made to him and concedes he did nothing to earn them.
The comptroller at the time, Alan Hevesi, just pled guilty to taking a million in bribes from Markstone Capital Partners, one of the companies that looted the fund, and $380,000 of that total took the form of a fee paid to Frank Sanzillo, a lobbyist whose brother was Hevesis top deputy. The fee was funneled through Hank Morris, the lynchpin of the pension racket. Hevesis only attempt at an explanation for steering the payments to Sanzillo is that he was a political supporter of mine. Sanzillo, who has not been charged, is another of the AEG lobbyists named in the IG report, though he got out quickly after a two-month retainer. He and Carl Andrews share several clients and are listed as pitching in together when the Senate Democrats buy golf balls for their outing.