Tuesday, April 1, 2014

EXCLUSIVE: Consulting firm that aided Melissa Mark-Viverito's campaigns now lobbies to her


The firm that helped Mark-Viverito win her races for City Council and Council speaker has now lobbied her on behalf of four clients, the Daily News has learned.

NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Monday, March 31, 2014, 9:21 PM
NYC PAPERS OUT. Social media use restricted to low res file max 184 x 128 pixels and 72 dpi Marcus Santos/New York Daily News The firm that helped Melissa Mark-Viverito become City Council Speaker now lobbies to her on behalf of four clients.
A consulting firm that aided Melissa Mark-Viverito in her successful races for City Council and Council speaker has since lobbied her on behalf of four clients, the Daily News has learned.
The firm, Pitta Bishop Del Giorno & Giblin, received $29,000 last summer and fall for advising Mark-Viverito’s Council campaign, and it got $8,000 in December for assisting her subsequent bid for speaker, records show.
In addition, more than 20% of the $100,000 Mark-Viverito raised for the speaker’s race, and most of the $27,000 tab for her Jan. 29 inauguration bash, came from Pitta Bishop clients.
Pitta Bishop lobbied Mark-Viverito on behalf of one client soon after the Nov. 5 election for Council, and it lobbied her on behalf of three others after the Jan. 8 election for speaker, new disclosure reports show.
A good government group criticized the relationship. “It’s problematic when you hire a firm to do your political work that’s also going to lobby you,” said Dick Dadey of Citizens Union. “It’s a very tight circle of influence.”
Disclosure reports show an advocacy group, the East Side Alliance Against Overdevelopment, paid Pitta Bishop $15,000 in November to fight a plan by Memorial Sloan-Kettering hospital to build two towers on city-owned land on E. 73rd St.
“We hired Pitta Bishop and they did a great effort,” said the group’s attorney, Albert Butzel.
Pitta Bishop lobbied Council members from Manhattan, including Mark-Viverito — who represents East Harlem — to vote against the project when it came before the 12-member Manhattan Borough Board on Nov. 21.
Mark-Viverito voted no, but the project was approved 6 to 4. Mark-Viverito’s spokesman said her vote had no connection to the lobbying by her consultant.
“What can we say? We’re a lobby firm. We lobby,” said Bill Farrell of Pitta Bishop.
In January and February, Pitta Bishop lobbyists also met with Mark-Viverito’s staff on behalf of another client, the Vera Institute.
The goal? Vera’s request for additional Council funding of a pilot program providing legal aid to immigrants. Vera received $500,000 in funding last year and wants $5 million more this year.
Mark-Viverito’s spokesman declined to comment on Vera’s request, which is pending, except to point out that the pilot program began under previous Council Speaker Christine Quinn.
Pitta Bishop also lobbied Mark-Viverito in January and February seeking “support for museum programming related to anti-bullying” run by the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Manhattan.
She was asked to speak at an anti-bullying event targeted to children, which she agreed to do, her spokesman said.
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