WNY firms, governments, and organizations spent $4 million on lobbying in 2021; Kennedy is among the “most frequent targets of lobbying”

The year 2021 was a year of transition in New York State government and lobbying activities.  By the early months of 2022 some signs of normalcy returned.  That is reflected in the amount of lobbying activity.

Total statewide spending on lobbying activities through May 2022 was up $24.1 million or 9.2 percent from the previous year.  The 2021 total is down just one percent from pre-pandemic 2019.  In the 2021 reporting year, through May 2022, a total of $292.2 million was spent on lobbying work in the state

The most recent report, for the year 2021, was published by JCOPE on July 7th.  JCOPE is now out of business, having been replaced by the new Commission on Ethics and Lobbying in Government (CELG).

Here are some other highlights from JCOPE’s report:

  • Labor was the biggest focus among this year’s top ten highest spending lobbying entities, including Doordash – the online food ordering and delivery platform – which appeared in the top ten for the first time, ranked at number nine. Labor was also a large focus for other top ten entities, including Greater New York Hospital Association (ranked #1), AARP (ranked #3), NYS Nurses Association (ranked #6), NYS Trial Lawyers Association (ranked #7), and NYS United Teachers (ranked #8).
  • The top ten lobbyists in 2021 were led once again by Brown & Weinraub, PLLC, followed by Kasirer LLC and Bolton St. Johns, LLC. Rounding out the top ten in 2021 were Greenberg Traurig, LLP; Mercury Public Affairs LLC; Ostroff Associates, Inc.; Park Strategies, LLC; Hinman Straub Advisors, LLC; Constantinople & Vallone Consulting LLC; and James F. Capalino & Associates.
  • The number of [lobbyist] registrations increased slightly from 5,740 in 2020 to 5,747 in 2021… In addition, the number of clients dropped to 4,486 in 2021, a decrease of 3.9% from 2020. This might suggest that although fewer clients lobbied in 2021 than in 2020, they paid more to lobby than they did in the previous year.
  • The number of public corporations that registered and filed as lobbyists or filed reports as clients of lobbyists increased slightly, from 58 in 2020 to 59 in 2021, which remains significantly less than the 76 that lobbied in 2019… Notably, the percentage of registrations reporting lobbying at both the State and local levels increased to over 40 percent in 2021, versus 32.7 percent in 2020 and 13.5 percent in 2019. State-only lobbying accounted for nearly half of all lobbying at 49.9% in 2021 compared to 68% in 2020, and 62% in 2019.

This blog has reviewed the list of Western New York firms and organizations that employed lobbyists beginning with activities in 2014 and continuing every year since then.  You can use this blog’s search tool on the homepage to look up previous years’ posts.  The financial reports published by the Joint Commission on Public Ethics (JCOPE) have become less user friendly over the past several years.  For example, the addresses of lobbyist clients, which is helpful in identifying local organizations, is no longer published.  The list of lobbyist clients is about 400 pages long.

This post drills down to the firms, governments and organizations based in Western New York employing lobbyists or doing their own lobbying work in 2021 continuing through reporting in May 2022.  Total spending by identifiable local firms, governments, and organizations in 2021 was approximately $4 million, a decrease of approximately $800,000 or 16 percent compared to 2020.  As has been the case in recent years, the local lobbying business is led by the firm of Masiello, Martucci and Associates, which had $1,363,000 in identifiable local billings last year.  O’Donnell & Associates (OA) was second at $638,754.  E3Communications came in third at $254,816.

It should be noted that lobbyist firms with local connections are often retained by businesses and organizations that do not have a Western New York base.  Out of Western New York lobbying clients can add significant revenues to a firm’s income.

A local angle previously unidentified by JCOPE is “Filings Ranked by Parties Lobbied.”  The top 24 “Parties Lobbied” includes just six of the 213 state legislators.  Assemblyman Richard Gottfried, who has served in the Assembly for 52 years and is Chair of the very busy Health Committee, comes in at number 10 of the list.  Gottfried is retiring at the end of this year.  Number 16 on the list is Senator Tim Kennedy, Chair of the Senate Transportation Committee.  A total of 715 contact filings were reported concerning Kennedy.

Kennedy is also high on another list kept by a state agency.  The Board of Elections reported in July that Kennedy has more than $2 million in his campaign treasury, which is likely more than what all other local state legislators have combined in their campaign accounts.  This all points to the connection between lobbying activities and campaign fundraising.

Certain firms and organizations basically represent themselves in the lobbying work and are noted without an identified lobbyist in the following list. 

Here is the 2021 list of local lobbying participants (Note: the list is most easily viewed on a computer or tablet):              

Business/Govt./OrganizationLobbyist$ Amount
Albright Knox GalleryMasiello Martucci             18,000
Albright Knox GalleryO’Donnell & Associates             18,000
ArtParkMasiello Martucci             42,000
Bassett Healthcare NetworkLippes Mathias             84,000
Bflo. & Erie Co. Botanical GardensMasiello Martucci             13,500
Bflo. Niagara Medical CampusMasiello Martucci                6,000
Buffalo & Pittsburgh RRHarter Secrest Emery             16,099
Buffalo Cannabis Co.Upstate Strategic Advisors                8,000
Buffalo City CemeteryFeatherstonhaugh             60,000
Buffalo City CemeteryMasiello Martucci             24,000
Buffalo Computer GraphicsBrown & Weinraub             20,288
Buffalo PBAE3 Communications             40,000
Buffalo ZooMasiello Martucci             27,000
Buffalo ZooO’Donnell & Associates             22,500
CAO of WNYO’Donnell & Associates                8,000
Catholic Health System            120,000
Center for Elder Law & JusticeMasiello Martucci             12,000
City of BuffaloMasiello Martucci             60,000
Correctional Officers & PBALippes Mathias             80,614
County of NiagaraMasiello Martucci             60,000
Creative Structure Serv.Masiello Martucci             18,000
Delaware North CompaniesBolton St. John                7,757
Delaware North CompaniesO’Donnell & Associates           109,002
Delta SonicMasiello Martucci             16,000
Developmental Disabilities AllianceJ.R. Drexelius             40,000
D’Youville UniversityMasiello Martucci             90,000
ECMC Corp.Masiello Martucci             48,000
Erie County Water Auth.Masiello Martucci             60,000
Evans BankRichardson Mgmt.             30,000
Health Care Assn. of WNY                6,147
Health Foundation of Cen.&WNYO’Donnell & Associates             40,000
Highmark of W. & NE NYHinman Straub             24,708
Highmark of W. & NE NYManatt, Phelps             27,000
Independent Health Association             88,800
John W. Danforth Co.Masiello Martucci             36,000
Kaleida HealthMasiello Martucci           108,000
Kleinhans Music HallE3 Communications             22,000
Maid of the MistMasiello Martucci             60,000
Main Place Liberty GroupMasiello Martucci             60,000
Medaille College FoundationO’Donnell & Associates             60,000
Modern Corp.Masiello Martucci             54,000
Montante CompaniesE3 Communications             78,816
National Fuel GasE3 Communications             60,000
National Fuel GasStatewide Public Affairs             50,686
National Fuel Gas           114,550
National Grid             19,749
New Era Cap Co.O’Donnell & Associates             60,000
NFTAMasiello Martucci             78,000
Nia.Fron. Anesthesia ServicesLenihan Strategies                9,000
Nia.Fron. Auto Dealers Assn.Harter Secrest, Emery             19,503
 Niagara Falls Bridge CommissionBolton St. John             36,954
Niagara Falls Bridge CommissionO’Donnell & Associates             72,252
Niagara Falls Water BoardUpstate Strategic Advisors                6,000
Niagara UniversityO’Donnell & Associates             45,000
NocoE3 Communications             24,000
OLV Human ServicesO’Donnell & Associates             36,000
Parkview Health ServicesMasiello Martucci             18,000
Pegula Sports & Entertainment           121,152
People Inc. FoundationMasiello Martucci             12,000
Phillips LytleMasiello Martucci             36,000
PVS Chemical SolutionsMasiello Martucci             60,000
Ralph C. Wilson FoundationO’Donnell & Associates             60,000
Rich Baseball OperationsMasiello Martucci             22,500
 Rigidized Metals Corp.O’Donnell & Associates                2,000
Rosina Food ProductsMasiello Martucci             36,000
Roswell Park C.I.Greenberg Traurig             89,000
Save Ontario ShoresMasiello Martucci             12,000
Seneca NationBolton St. John           165,869
Seneca NationHinman Straub           121,095
Seneca NationMasiello Martucci           120,000
Shea’s O’Connell GuildMasiello Martucci             30,000
Sinatra & Co.Masiello Martucci             36,000
South Buffalo RRHarter Secrest             16,099
St. Bonaventure University                2,500
Tac AirMasiello Martucci             72,000
Town of CheektowagaO’Donnell & Associates             36,000
Trocaire CollegeE3 Communications             30,000
University at Buffalo           240,013
Upstate PharmacyO’Donnell & Associates             60,000
Western Regional OTBCUpstate Strategic Advisors             42,000
Westminster Community CharterO’Donnell & Associates             10,000
Wheatfield GardensRichardson Mgmt.             15,000
William SchuttMasiello Martucci             18,000
WNY EnergyPark Strategies             36,000
WNY Property Owners Coalition             36,000

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