News & Politics

Barrett: Paterson Schmoozed, Battered by Bloomie Firm


At the same moment that the high-powered political consulting firm Knickerbocker SKD launched its campaign to pressure David Paterson into appointing Caroline Kennedy to Hillary Clinton’s senate seat, it also launched an ad campaign attacking the governor’s just-announced budget.

Careful not to mention Paterson by name, the commercial, which is airing statewide and started last night, faults the budget for failing to include a tax hike on those making more than $250,000.

Jennifer Cunningham, a partner at Knickerbocker who once led the
union/hospital coalition that’s paying for the ads, acknowledged that
the company produced the ads. Cunningham and a spokeswoman for the
group, which is called the Healthcare Education Project, would only say
that the ad buy was “substantial” and would last until December 23.
Neither denied that the initial buy was $900,000, a figure obtained by
the Voice from other sources.

Entitled “Tis’ the
Season,” the ad “illustrates the importance of a budget solution that
spreads the sacrifice among all New Yorkers,” according to press
release issued by the Greater New York Hospital Association and Local
1199 SEIU, the management and union groups that formed the coalition.
The release pointed out that on December 14, more than 150 religious
leaders signed an open letter to Paterson, “imploring” him to enact the
Fair Share Tax Reform called for in ad. Obviously, Paterson didn’t
adopt that plan, and the ad is a forceful attempt to push him to do so.
But Knickerbocker and the coalition may be pulling their punches: their prior ad campaigns aggressively targeted Paterson’s predecessor, Eliot Spitzer, by name. This time, the governor’s name is left out.

Paterson has reportedly been looking for a new media consultant for his
own 2010 campaign and Knickerbocker is said to be one of the firms he’s
considering. That would, of course, align him with Mayor Bloomberg and
Kennedy, both of whom are using it as their prime media and consulting
firm. Cunningham, however, told the Voice: “We are not talking to the governor’s campaign.”

Research assistance: Patrick Anderson and Jana Kasperkevic

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