We got yet another fascinating look inside the Albany favors factory yesterday when Andrew Cuomo released his latest revelation in the state pension fund scandal. Pat Lynch, the uber-lobbyist and close friend and ally of Sheldon Silver, was slapped with a half-million-dollar fine and banned from knocking on the door of the state comptroller for further business. For Albany insiders, this is big news since Lynch is a major player in state government.
But for those of us on the outside looking in, what’s much more fascinating about the settlement deal Cuomo uncorked yesterday is that it shows that even mighty Hollywood can be reduced to petty favor swapping when Albany’s chieftains bark.
Start at the top: Here’s powerful lobbyist and former top Assembly executive Pat Lynch back in 2004 with a client looking to do business with the state’s $140 billion pension fund (who wouldn’t?). And here’s the gatekeeper to state comptroller Alan Hevesi, a scurvy little political hack from Queens named Jack Chartier. Chartier is hopelessly in love with former TV starlet Peggy Lipton (who wouldn’t?). Chartier asks Lynch to get one of her clients to hire Lipton’s daughter.
At this point, you might guess that Kidada Jones, the lovely daughter of Lipton and music genius Quincy Jones, would end up working for some smarmy mega-health care firm totally dependent on the largesse of the state legislature. Wrong, wrong, wrong. The client Lynch taps for the favor is one of Hollywood’s gold-plated concerns, the Walt Disney Company of Burbank, California. At the time, Disney was paying Patricia Lynch Associates $10,000 a month to represent it before all “legislative and administrative branches” of state government.
Pay attention here, this is how the world really works.
Walt Disney Co. takes on the lovely Kidada as a $12,000 a month consultant “creating products related to the company.” Nice gig. But the checks don’t always arrive on time. In December, 2005, Cuomo’s report states, Lynch has to call up Disney and ask where are Kidada’s last two paychecks? A month later, she is on Disney’s case again. This time, the comptroller’s office “was concerned that the daughter’s contract had not been renewed.” Said contract was soon re-signed.
Proving that she had her own deep investment in the care and feeding of this deal, in March 2006, Lynch shells out $8,500 from her own pocket to pay for a trip to Tokyo by the lovely Kidada. “This expenditure was apparently styled as an investment in the daughter’s business,” states the report.
It was apparently a pretty good investment. The report says that Lynch enjoyed “preferred access to high-level staff” including Hevesi and all of his top aides, and scored fat fees from deals she won from the office.
The only baffling part of all this is why it takes Albany fixers to land a business deal for a gorgeous young woman with two famous parents and whose picture pops up with celebrities all over the internet.
But if that’s a mystery, the rest of the story is pretty simple: Public official, smitten by actress, sells his office; indictments, scandal follow.
It is altogether fitting that this chapter emerged on the anniversary of John Lennon’s death. The guiding principal of Lennonism, after all, was that “Love is All You Need.” If he’d stuck around longer, he might have added that it can also get you in a shitload of trouble. But we knew that already.