WNY firms, governments and organizations spent $4.8 million on lobbying in 2020

The year 2020 was different in many ways for governments.  Dropping revenues, the ceding of legislative powers to the governor, and a Legislature that ran about half of its session mostly on Zoom, including approval of the annual budget, were all milestones for New York.

Another feature was a drop in lobbying activities.  Total statewide spending on lobbying activities was down $30 million or 10 percent from the 2019 numbers.

This blog has reviewed the list of Western New York firms and organizations that employed lobbyists for several years, beginning with activities in 2014 and continuing every year through 2019.  (You can use this blog’s search tool on the homepage to look up previous years’ posts.)  The most recent report, for the year 2020, was published by the Joint Commission on Public Ethics (JCOPE) on July 8th.

Lobbying is still big business in New York State.  In 2020, according to JCOPE, a total of $268.1 million was spent on lobbying work in the state.  Here are some other highlights from JCOPE’s report:

  • The number of clients increased slightly, while the number of individual lobbyists remained steady.
  • The list of top 10 highest-spending lobbying entities for 2020 included traditionally active industries and interests related to business, real estate, healthcare, and education, but with some notable changes as to the entities within those industries that were in the Top 10.
  • Six of the top 10 spenders listed COVID-19 related lobbying activities in their 2020 lobbying reports. The year also reflected a higher involvement of groups with criminal justice and civil rights interests.
  • Though it spent less than in 2019, Greater New York Hospital Association, Inc. took the top spot in 2020, reporting more than $2.99 million in lobbying spending compared to 2019, when they ranked third among the top 10 entities with just over $3 million.
  • Consistent with its ranking in 2019, 1199 SEIU Labor Management Initiatives, Inc. Healthcare Education Project continued to be the second-highest spender in 2020. Rounding out the top 10 in 2020 were New York State United Teachers (up from #9 in 2019); FWD.US, Inc. (new to the top 10); New York State Trial Lawyers Association (up from #10 last year); Genting New York LLC; AARP; FWRA LLC; New Yorkers United For Justice (down from #4 last year) and RAI Services Company (new to the top 10).

This post drills down to the firms, governments and organizations based in Western New York employing lobbyists or doing their own lobbying work in 2020.  Total spending by local firms, governments and organizations in 2020 was almost $4.8    million, a decrease of approximately $600,000 or 11 percent compared to 2019.  As has been the case in recent years, the local lobbying business is led by the firm of Masiello, Martucci and Associates (MM), which had $1,855,546 in local billings last year.  O’Donnell & Associates (OA) was second at $515,288.  E3 came in third at $268,000. 

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 who had local business in 2020:               

BSJ         Bolton St. Johns

BW         Brown & Weinraub

CHC        Capital Health 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

HR          Hodgson Russ

JRD         J.R. Drexelius

LS           Lawrence Schillinger

MR         Malkin & Ross

MPP      Manatt, Phelps & Phillips

MM      Masiello, Martucci

MPA      Mercury Public Affairs

OA          O’Donnell & Associates

PG          Parkside Group

 PS           Park Strategies

 PBD        Pitta Bishop & Del Giorno

 RM         Richardson Management

 SH          Sheridan Hofman & Associates

 USA       Upstate Strategic Advisors

ZGA       ZGA, LLC

Here is the list of 112 local firms, governments and organizations that employed lobbyists or conducted their own lobbying work in 2020. 

Client                                                         Lobby Firms        Total 2020 Costs

Albright-Knox Art Gallery                             MM                    $18,000

                                                                            OA                        10,500

Allegany County IDA                                     BSJ                      $41,314

American Medical Response                        MM                       $54,100

Archer, Daniel,Midland                                 MM                       $36,000

ArtPark & Company                                       MM                       $42,050

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

Buffalo & Erie Co. Botanical Gardens       MM                        $30,374

Buffalo City Cemetery                                   FWC                       $60,231

                                                                           MM                       $24,000

Buffalo Computer Graphics                         BW                         $60,894

Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus               MM                       $36,100

Buffalo Niagara Partnership                                                       $17,052

Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper                     OA                           $291

Buffalo PBA                                                     E3                            $27,500

Buffalo State College                                                                    $26,290

Buffalo Zoo                                                    MM                      $24,216

Canisius College                                                                          $100

Catholic Health System                                                               $110,500

Center for Elder Law & Justice                        MM                 $40,042

City of Buffalo                                                   MM                     $60,000

City of Lackawanna                                         MM                     $3,000

Chocolate Delivery Systems                            USA                       $10,000

Corky Burger Productions                             MM                     $17,550

County of Niagara                                           MM                     $60,000

Creative Structure Services                         MM                       $18,100

Delaware North Companies                        OA                         $75,000

                                                                            DA                        $146,312

Delta Sonic                                                       MM                     $16,000

DePaul                                                                 MM                       $12,100

Developmental Disability Alliance               JRD                       $48,000

District Council 4, Painters                            PBD                       $26,025

D’Youville College                                           MM                     $90,368

Erie County Medical Center                         MM                     $48,676

Erie County Water Authority                       HSE                        $60,000

Evans Bank                                                       RM                         $25,000

Evergreen Health Services of WNY              MR                         $48,435

Fallon Health Weinberg                                 HSA                        $60,468

FNUB, Inc.                                                          OA                         $77,271

Fresenius Medical Care                                   MM                       $45,000

GAR Associates                                                 MM                      $27,500

                                                                             ES                          $49,519

Genesee County Economic Dev.                    PS                          $19,653

Greater Bflo. United Accountable Care       BSJ                         $60,440

Greenman Petersen                                      MM                        $36,000

Greenwich Biosciences                                   MM                         $86,510

Hamburg Central SD                                        MM                        $3,232

Highmark Western & NE NY                         MMP                     $36,000

Independent Health Association                  SH                             $58,800

Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries        LS                            $28,500

John W. Danforth Company                        MM                      $36,000

                                                                            EA                        $36,000

Kaleida Health                                                  MM                     $110,188

Magellan Technologies                                  USA                       $7,500

Maid of the Mist Corp.                                  MM                       $60,200

Main Place Liberty Group                               MM                         $20,000

Medaille College Foundation                       OA                         $60,291

Mensch Capital Partners                               MM                        $36,100

MHG Telco                                                         MM                          $42,100

Modern Corp.                                                 MM                        $54,100

Montante Group                                             E3                           $78,000

National Fuel Gas                                             E3                           $60,000

                                                                             SPA                        $50,118

                                                                             HSE                        $19,364

National Strategies                                            MM                         $14,817

Neighborhood Legal Services                      BSJ                          $24,000

New Era Cap Company                                 OA                             $60,291

New York Automated Vending Assn.        MM                         $25,100

Niagara Falls Bridge Commission               BSJ                          $37,126

                                                                           OA                            $72,291

Niagara Frontier Auto Dealers Assn.       HSE                        $24,059

Niagara Frontier Transportation Auth.    MM                       $78,000

NIDUS Development                                   MM                       $24,200

NOCO                                                                E3                          $24,000

North American Breweries                          RMS                       $15,000

Olin                                                                    E3                          $7,500

OLV Human Services                                        OA                          $12,379

Parkview Health Services                             MM                        $18,200

Pegula Sports & Entertainment                                                 $164,256

People, Inc. Foundation                MM                         $36,100

Phillips Lytle                                                  MM                         $36,300

Pyramid Management Group                      PG                          $30,000

Premier Genesee Center                              CHC                     $22,500

Presbyterian Senior Care                              MM                         $2,500

Property Registration Champions               MM                        $12,200

Ralph C. Wilson Foundation                       OA                         $60,291

Reenergy Holdings                                         HR                           $3,015

Regional Community Service Programs     MR                        $44,114

Rich Baseball Operations                              MM                      $7,500

Rigidized Metal Corp.                                     OA                          $26,291  

RJ Watson                                                           MM                        $12,000

Rosina Food Products                                    MM                        $36,612

Roswell Park Cancer Institute                                                        $188,954

Save Ontario Shore, Inc.                                MM                       $23,000

Seneca Nation of Indians                              MM                     $100,000  

                                                                             HS                        $120,000                                           

Shea’s O’Connell Preservation Guild       MM                        $30,200

Sinatra and Company                                    MM                     $36,000

South Buffalo R.R.                                        HSE                         $13,722

Spark Therapeutics                                         MM                          $48,100

Tac Air                                                               MM                         $36,000

TM Montante Development                        E3                           $35,000

Town of Cheektowaga                                  OA                          $36,000

Trocaire College                                             E3                           $36,000

University at Buffalo                                                                   $355,589

Upstate Pharmacy                                          HR                          $23,331

Vegetable Growers                                      ZGA                        $25,152

Western Central Coalition for Children   GT                          $21,523

Western New York Energy                          PS                          $37,550

Western New York Hospital Assn.                                           $15,590

Western Regional OTB                                MPA                      $96,000

                                                                         USA                       $56,000

Wheatfield Gardens                                    RM                         $44,000

William Schutt & Associates                      MM                       $18,200

WNY MRI                                                         OA                             $770

WNY Women’s Foundation                                                         $1,762

ZG Investors                                                       MM                       $13,648

What are the results of all this lobbying work?  The private companies who are on the list will undoubtedly keep such information private unless a government contract is involved, but there are a number of local governments and public institutions included here.  Cumulatively their spending adds up to nearly $1.2 million in public funds.  What they were looking for from their lobbying and what they actually achieved are important public questions.