Cuomo, Lobbyist Agree to Pension Ban

By Michael Gormley
|  Wednesday, Dec 8, 2010  |  Updated 2:00 PM EDT
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Cuomo, Lobbyist Agree to Pension Ban

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New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo speaks during a press conference about recalled Toyota cars February 24, 2010 in New York City. Cuomo, thought to be a possible candidate for New York governor, has reached an agreement with the car company to provide Toyota owners in New York with alternative transportation and other perks in the aftermath of the massive recall of Toyota automobiles.

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Attorney General Andrew Cuomo said Wednesday that he reached a settlement with one of Albany's most influential lobbyists that would ban her from appearing before the state comptroller for five years.

Patricia Lynch, once Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver's most trusted adviser, will also pay $500,000 to the state under the agreement.

The action is part of Cuomo's probe of politically connected people who helped clients arrange investments from the state's massive pension system. The comptroller is the sole trustee of the $133 billion pension system.

"We're pleased to put the matter behind us," Patricia Lynch Associates said in a statement.

Lynch remains close to Silver. The action could add to tension between Silver, who for decades has been the state's most powerful Democrat, and Cuomo. The Democratic governor-elect promises to confront the Legislature, end Albany's dysfunction and force lawmakers to disclose their clients in private law practices, something Silver, a lawyer, opposes.

Cuomo said Wednesday's agreement involved his concerns about lobbying and securities "misconduct."

"Gifts, favors, and campaign contributions are not a legitimate basis for government contracts or special treatment," Cuomo said. "Lobbyists whose stock-in-trade is pay-to-play have no business appearing before government agencies that safeguard taxpayer dollars."

He accused Lynch of seeking favor for clients seeking investments from the comptroller's office by arranging contributions to former Democratic Comptroller Alan Hevesi. Cuomo said Lynch also sought gifts and a contract for the daughter of Hevesi's chief of staff. The daughter got a consulting contract from one of Lynch's clients paying $12,000 a month.

Cuomo said two clients were paying Lynch's firm $10,000 a month in lobbying fees in 2005-2006. He also said Lynch obtained $52,000 in improper "placement fees" in 2007 from a New York City pension fund investment without having the required securities license. Cuomo said Lynch repeatedly tried to persuade the state pension fund to approve investments for her clients.

Separately, pension fund adviser Aldus Equity will pay more than $1 million in restitution, Cuomo said.

Cuomo said the agreement concerns the company's responsibility for a former employee who pleaded guilty in October 2009 to securities fraud, a felony. The company and its current and former partners will pay $1 million in cash and forfeit certain fees and interest.

A spokesman for Aldus couldn't immediately be found for comment.

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