Mr. Capalino agreed to pay a fine of $40,000 for making a $10,000 donation to the nonprofit and raising another $90,000 from his other lobbying clients at a time when he was a registered lobbyist. State rules bar lobbyists from giving gifts of more than $75 to elected leaders or to a charitable organization at the behest of the elected official.
In April 2015, “the mayor directly requested respondent Capalino’s support in advancing the city’s legislative and policy objectives,” the settlement says, and told him that Ross Offinger, treasurer of the nonprofit, “would provide further information on the details of that support.” Mr. Offinger followed up with a request for a donation and help raising more.
A few months later, in September, Mr. de Blasio held a breakfast with Mr. Capalino and his clients who contributed to the nonprofit, a gathering the lobbyist described to clients as a “kitchen cabinet.” The breakfast was not listed on Mr. de Blasio’s voluntary disclosure of lobbyist meetings. “When a lobbyist lobbies me on behalf of a client, I disclose it,” he said during the television interview. “If a lobbyist talks to me about politics or the Mets or something else, that’s not lobbying on behalf of a client.”
Mr. Capalino, in a statement, said he agreed to support the nonprofit when asked because of Mr. de Blasio’s work on income inequality, but allowed that he “should have been more sensitive to how my support might appear.” Mr. Capalino did not admit to any violation of the law and said he looked forward to “putting this behind us.”
In the Nyclass settlement, the group, which has campaigned for the removal of horse-drawn carriages from Central Park, was fined for failing to register as lobbyists. Its founders Steve Nislick and Wendy Neu both donated to the nonprofit as well, but their gifts were not part of the settlement. “We made a mistake in failing to file disclosure forms in the first half of 2014,” they said in a joint statement.
A spokesman for the nonprofit, which Mr. de Blasio shut in 2016, declined to comment. Mr. Offinger did not respond to a message seeking comment. Lawyers for Mr. de Blasio have accused the panel of a selective inquiry and one that has stretched far beyond its scope. At one point, they stopped cooperating with the inquiry.
David M. Grandeau, a former head of the lobby commission and a frequent critic of the panel, said that Jcope appeared to be selectively applying regulations that it developed on its own in 2014.
Walter J. McClure, a spokesman for the panel, disputed that. “We deal fairly and justly with entities and individuals who come under our jurisdiction,” he said.
News credit : Nytimes