WNY firms and organizations spent $5.4 million on lobbying in 2019

Budget-wise, things have been getting tight in Albany recently and the prospects for 2021 and beyond are distressing.  The urge to spend state money by new state legislators from New York City in 2020 was tempered by the realities of diminishing tax revenues as well as Governor Andrew Cuomo’s interest in continuing to hold down the growth in spending.  It will get worse before it gets better.

Nonetheless, determining how state resources will be used continues to feed a large segment of the business community that tries every year to get a new or larger piece of the pie.  Lobbying was alive and well in New York State in 2019.

The year 2020 has been different in terms of tanking state revenues, ceding of legislative powers to the governor, and perhaps a drop in lobbying activities.  We will not see how this year’s lobbying work panned out until mid-2021.  In the meantime, here is what we know from the last normal year, 2019.

This blog has reviewed the list of Western New York firms and organizations that employed lobbyists for several years, beginning in 2014, and continuing in 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018.  (You can use this blog’s search tool on the homepage to look up previous years’ posts.)  The most recent report, for the year 2019, was published by the Joint Commission on Public Ethics (JCOPE) this past July 30.

Lobbying is big business in New York State.  In 2019, according to JCOPE, a total of $298 million was spent on lobbying work in the state.  This was up $36 million from the previous year. 

Here’s a summary from JCOPE’s report about lobbying activities:

The list of the top 10 lobbying entities by total spending for 2019 was once again dominated by traditionally active industries and interests related to budget/appropriations, real estate, general business, and health care. Taxpayers for an Affordable NY, Inc. took the top spot in 2019, reporting more than $3.9 million in lobbying spending. Last year’s top spending entity, Uber Technology & Its Affiliates, fell out of the top 10 highest spenders, reporting 78 percent less in 2019, at $1.3 million in lobbying expenditures. It is worth noting that both Taxpayers for an Affordable NY, Inc. and Uber Technology & Its Affiliates are also coalition members of Fix Our Transit, which reported nearly $1.1 million in lobbying spending. Also included in this year’s top 10 were 1199 SEIU Labor Management Initiatives, Inc. Healthcare Education Project, Greater New York Hospital Association, Inc., New Yorkers United for Justice (filing for the first time in 2019), … New York State Laborers-Employers Cooperation and Trust… the Tobacco-Free Kids Action Fund (filing for the first time in 2019), Success Academy Charter Schools, Inc., Coalition for New York’s Future, Inc., the New York State United Teachers (NYSUT), which is also a coalition member of the Patient Protection Coalition, and the New York State Trial Lawyers Association.

This post drills down to the firms and organizations based in Western New York employing lobbyists or doing their own lobby work in 2019.  Total spending by local firms and organizations in 2019 was $5.4 million, an increase of three hundred thousand dollars or 5.9 percent over 2018.  As has been the case in recent years, the local lobbying business is led by the firm of Masiello, Martucci, Calabrese & Associates (MMC), which had $1,484,026 in local billings last year.  Bolton St. John (BSJ) was second at $500,071.  E3 rated third with $333,000.

Certain firms and organizations basically represent themselves in the lobbying work and are so noted in the following list.  As to the lobbying firms involved, here is a code for the listed clients for who had local business in 2019:               

BSJ         Bolton St. Johns

BW         Brown & Weinraub

CHC        Capital Health Consulting

CG          Capitol Group

CC           Carreau Consulting

DA          Dickinson Avella

E3           E3 Communications

EA           Empire Advocates

ES           Envision Strategy

FWC       Featherstonhaugh, Wiley & Clyne

GT          Greenberg Traurig

HSE        Harter Secrest Emery

HSA        Hinman Straub

JRD         J.R. Drexelius

LS            Lawrence Schillinger

MC         McBride Consultants

MR         Malkin & Ross

MPP      Manatt, Phelps & Phillips

MMC     Masiello, Martucci, Calabrese

MPA      Mercury Public Affairs

NFBS     Niagara Frontier Business Solutions

OA          O’Donnell & Associates

 PG          Parkside Group

 PS           Park Strategies

 PBD        Pitta Bishop & Del Giorno

 RM         Richardson Management

 SA           Sheridan Hofman & Associates

 SPA        Statewide Public Affairs

 SDS        Strategic Development Specialists

USA       Upstate Strategic Advisors

ZGA       ZGA, LLC

Here is the list of 111 local firms and organizations that employed lobbyists or conducted their own lobbying work in 2019.  There were 15 new firms and organizations signed on for lobbying last year while 17 dropped off from the 2018 list.  The sports world became involved in lobbying activity as Rich Baseball Operations, Pegula Sports and Entertainment, and the Ralph C. Wilson Foundation filed lobbying reports with JCOPE in 2019.

Client                                                                    Lobby Firms        Total 2019 Expenses

Albright-Knox Art Gallery                             MMC                   $18,000

Archer Daniels (Personius Melber)          MMC                     $36,000

Assn. of Ambulatory Surgery Centers     E3                           $46,000

Association of Electrical Workers                                            $121,218

Association of Home Inspectors                  PG                        $6,000

Assn. of Plumbing,Heating,Cooling Con.    CG                        $12,000

Athletic Trainers Association                       CC                           $39,996

Baker Victory Services                                   BSJ                         $15,360

Buffalo & Erie Co. Naval Military Park      BSJ                         $15,708

                                                                           OA                          $3,000

Buffalo & Erie Co. Botanical Gardens       MMC                     $48,000

Buffalo City Cemetery                                   FWC                       $40,233

                                                                           MMC                     $24,000

Buffalo Computer Graphics                         BW                         $60,919

Buffalo/Lake Erie Wireless Systems         MMC                     $42,000

Buffalo Niagara Association of Realtors                                  $13,175

Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus               MMC                     $36,000

Buffalo Niagara Partnership                                                        $24,858

Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper                     BSJ                         $708

Buffalo State College                                                                     $15,774

Buffalo Transportation                               USA                       $8,000

Buffalo Zoo                                                    MMC                     $24,171

Bus Patrol America                                     USA                       $60,000

Canisius College                                                                          $200

Catholic Health System                                  HH                      $39,000

Center for Elder Law & Justice                                                  $109,802

                                                                             MMC                     $26,310

City of Buffalo                                                   MMC                     $50,885

City of Lackawanna                                         MMC                     $36,147

Coalition for Community Building              MMC                     $40,500

Corky Burger Productions                            MMC                     $12,500

County of Niagara                                           MMC                     $60,093

County of Orleans                                           PS                           $61,653

Creative Structure Services                         MMC                     $18,000

Custom Crews Inc.                                          RM                         $15,000

Delaware North Companies                        BSJ                         $150,879

                                                                            DA                          $121,390

Delta Sonic                                                       MMC                     $21,152

Developmental Disability Alliance             JRD                         $42,000

Diamond Game Enterprises (Hodgson,Russ)                       $33,612

District Council 4, Painters                            PBD                       $25,998

D’Youville College                                           MMC                     $90,756

Erie County Medical Center                         MMC                     $48,000

Erie County Water Authority                       HSE                        $60,465

Evans Bank                                                       RM                         $30,000

Evergreen Health Services of WNY           MR                         $48,435

Fair Committee                                                 USA                       $9,000

Fallon Health Weinberg                                 HSA                        $60,468

FNUB, Inc.                                                          BSJ                         $77,794

                                                                              OA                          $3,000

Fresenius Kabi USA                                         SPA                        $42,000

GAR Associates                                                 MMC                     $30,000

                                                                             ES                          $86,757

Genesee County Economic Dev.                    PS                          $19,653

Greenman Petersen                                      MMC                     $36,000

Hauptman-Woodward                                  HSE                       $54,477

HealthNow New York                                    MMP                     $36,000

Hispanic Heritage Council WNY                                                  $118

Independent Health Association                  SPA                        $58,800

                                                                             SH                           $58,800

Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries    LS                             $43,500

Jamestown Brewing (Hodgson,Russ)      BSJ                         $5,163

John W. Danforth Company                        MMC                     $36,000

                                                                            NFBS                     $12,000

                                                                            EA                           $36,000

Kaleida Health                                                  MMC                     $113,300

Ken-Ton School District                                 MMC                     $9,863

Magellan Technologies                                  USA                       $7,500

Maid of the Mist Corp.                                  MMC                     $50,036

Medaille College                                              BSJ                         $50,708

                                                                              OA                          $10,000

Mensch Capital Partners                               MMC                     $24,000

Modern Corp.                                                   MMC                     $54,000

Montante Group                                             E3                           $39,000

Montante Morgan Gates Circle                 E3                           $18,000

Natl. Assn. of Industrial Office Parks        MMC                      $24,000

National Fuel Gas                                             E3                           $48,000

                                                                             GT                          $45,000

                                                                              SPA                        $50,139

                                                                             HSE                        $19,364

Neighborhood Legal Services                      BSJ                          $24,000

New Era Cap Company                                  BSJ                          $50,000

                                                                            OA                          $10,000

Niagara Falls Bridge Commission               PS                           $90,708

Niagara Frontier Auto Dealers Assn.       HSE                        $25,676

Niagara Frontier Transportation Auth.    MMC                     $78,000

NOCO                                                                E3                          $24,000

North American Breweries                          RMS                       $15,000

Olin                                                                    E3                          $45,000

Parkview Health Services                             MMC                     $18,348

Pegula Sports & Entertainment                                                 $67,689

People, Inc.                                                                                      $36,438

Phillips Lytle                                                     MMC                     $66,000

Plus Power (Hodgson,Russ)                                                        $8,014

Pyramid Management Group                      PG                          $30,000

Power for Economic Prosperity                E3                          $18,000

Premier Genesee Center                              CHC                        $30,000

Public Housing Auth Directors Assn.        EA                          $36,000

Ralph C. Wilson Foundation                                                         $60,879

                                                                            OA                          $5,000

Reenergy Holdings (Hodgson,Russ)                                         $8,199

Regional Community Service Programs  MR                         $57,156

Rich Baseball Operations                              MMC                     $22,731

Rigidized Metal Corp.                                     BSJ                         $40,708

                                                                            OA                          $8,000

Rosina Food Products                                    MMC                     $36,000

Roswell Park Cancer Institute                                                     $212,216

Save Ontario Shore, Inc.                                MMC                     $30,000

Seneca-Larkin 701                                                                            $708

Seneca Nation of Indians                              MMC                     $121,234                                             

Shea’s O’Connell Preservation Guild       MMC                     $30,000

Sinatra and Company                                    MMC                     $36,000

South Buffalo R.R.                                                                         $16,078

TM Montante Development                        E3                           $35,000

Town of Cheektowaga                                  BSJ                         $36,808

                                                                          OA                          $3,000

Trocaire College                                             E3                           $60,000

University at Buffalo                                                                     $399,555

Raul Vazquez, M.D.                                       MMC                     $18,000

Vegetable Growers                                        SPA                        $24,923

Western Central Coalition for Children   GT                          $21,523

Western New York Energy                          PS                           $24,000

Western New York Hospital Assn.                                            $5,484

Western New York Law Center                  BSJ                        $32,235

Western Regional OTB                                MPA                       $108,000

                                                                         SDS                        $25,000

                                                                         USA                       $53,500

Wheatfield Gardens                                    RM                         $60,000

William Schutt & Associates                      MMC                     $18,000

WNY Women’s Foundation                                                         $1,762

The remaining question:  after looking at the data, what is the result of all this lobbying work?  The private companies who are on the list will undoubtedly keep such information private (unless there are public contracts for services and products), but there are a number of local governments and public institutions included here.  Cumulatively their spending adds up to nearly $1.5 million in public funds.  What were they looking for from their lobbying and what they actually achieved are important public questions.  That is a story for another day.        

3 thoughts on “WNY firms and organizations spent $5.4 million on lobbying in 2019

  1. According to politifact there are a few categories in which New York City receives more than it puts in, but overall, the difference between how much is paid in taxes and how much is spent on services and projects benefits Western New York- not New York City. This is an old canard Republicans use nationwide as well. They try to tell us blue states suck money from red states but the truth is for every dollar a red state gives to the federal government they receive somewhere between $1.25-$1.50 while for every dollar a blue state sends to Washington they get about $.75 in return. Just math.
    I will completely agree though the influence from unions is out of control. Somehow it just doesn’t seem fair that we as individuals don’t have the same oomph, as say, a teachers union.


  2. Lobbying, particularly in western New York is not as simple as saying that local businesses are looking for political influence. The problem that western New York faces is downstate and knows that downstate controls the governor, the lt governor, the legislature and most of the judiciary. Its a one party state controlled by one city or region in the state. If NYC needs to subway cars then float a bond deal that upstate has to sign off on the liability. If NYC is going bankrupt, the governor will bail them out and make the entire state pay for it. Everything in western New York is built around siphoning money from the entire state and re-allocating it to downstate and in return downstate writes all their laws tailored to downstate which has the money to afford such regulations and bureaucracy but upstate and western New York interpret as just more regulatory burden because our business community cannot afford running our city’s and county govt as downstate.
    In some cases local business lobbying is the one of the few means of private sector influence in local govt and in state govt that allows our region to have a voice in the downstate laws, regulations, taxes, bonds, etc which ultimately we (our city, our region) will have to pay.
    The two things I think should be banned statewide from political lobbying and political donations (but will neve happen) are non-profits and govt unions. The whole purpose of a non-profit is to serve the public good and political donations divert money from that mission. Govt unions already have enough power. Their large voting block is often enough to render the individual voter as irrelevant in an election. The union vote is enough and they should not be allowed greater power by participating in elections or making political donations.


  3. Ken….really enjoyed your piece on funding of judicial races…they squeeze every penny they can out of judicial candidates and their loved ones…It’s a great job if you get it, but look at how many people “raised” hundreds of thousands of dollars and never got a judgeship.
    And then, strangely, a few people get judgeships without raising any money.
    Great to see you partnering with Jim Heaney…he’s a tremendous, crusading journalist and a great friend.
    Someday, I hope, we can have that cup of coffee.
    Stay safe and healthy for the holidays…Dan Herbeck


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