New York Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul speaks during a press conference the day after Governor Andrew Cuomo announced his resignation on August 11, 2021 at the New York State Capitol in Albany, New York.
Cindy Schultz | Reuters
Kathy Hochul won’t become New York’s governor for about two weeks, but several lobbyists have already had a leg in the race to influence her.
Hochul, who was elected Vice Governor of the state in 2014, has already dealt with several lobbyists from various industries this year.
She will replace Governor Andrew Cuomo after he announced on Tuesday that he would resign in two weeks after the attorney general presented a report that he sexually molested 11 women. Cuomo, who continues to deny wrongdoing, was investigated for several months before stepping out.
“I’m sure you have sought Kathy Hochul’s favor in the Albany lobbying world, starting with the cascade of allegations earlier this year,” a longtime Democratic insider with ties to the government told CNBC. “I bet that was when your phone went down because Albany lobbyists know when a major change is imminent.” This person declined to be called to speak freely.
On Wednesday, Hochul said that she had already been in contact with the heads of state of the legislature as well as the heads of companies and trade unions. She also vowed to clean up the toxic work environment that Cuomo was accused of overseeing.
Hochul, who will be the state’s first female governor, had heard from some of the state’s top funders prior to Cuomo’s resignation.
Some of the lobbyists who were in contact with her had ties to Cuomo’s late father, former Governor Mario Cuomo; former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and former Governor David Paterson.
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Andrew Cuomo’s connections with lobbyists include Giorgio DeRosa, the father of Cuomo’s longtime associate Melissa DeRosa. DeRosa and his team temporarily deployed Hochul employees for a large number of customers.
A spokesman for DeRosa’s company Bolton-St. Johns said her team looks forward to working with Hochul and the next New York City Mayor, who is slated to be Democratic nominee Eric Adams.
Here are the lobbying shops that were in contact with Hochul this year.
A lobbying disclosure report shows that the Kasirer law firm, together with state lawmakers, spoke directly to Hochul between May and June. The effort went to Columbia Care Inc., a cannabis product pharmacy with locations in New York.
According to the report, the focus for Kasirer was on “building relationships with regard to cannabis legislation”. Cuomo signed a bill in March that would legalize recreational marijuana use in the Empire State. Hochul will now be responsible for the future implementation of the directive.
One of the lobbyists listed in the report who campaigned for Hochul is Suri Kasirer, the company’s founder and president. Kasirer was on the senior staff of Governor Mario Cuomo. Crain’s has named Kasirer “New York City’s Most Successful Lobbyist”.
Kasirer’s website lists numerous corporate clients, including Wall Street firms like Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley; Real estate giants like RXR, Brookfield, Tishman and Brodsky, as well as media companies like Comcast and NBCUniversal, parent companies of CNBC.
The company did not respond to requests for comment.
Sheridan Hohman & Associates
Sheridan Hohman & Associates, a lobbying shop run by Tim Sheridan and Katie Hohman, reached out to Hochul this summer.
Sheridan was the director of government affairs under Mario Cuomo. Between May and June, they campaigned on behalf of Hochul and other state officials for the New York Association of Training & Employment Professionals, a nonprofit that focuses on human resource development in the state.
The lobbying report said their efforts were focused on “government funding” for a “human resource development initiative”.
The company did not respond to a request for comment.
Shenker Russo & Clark
Shenker Russo & Clark, an Albany company that represented the Greater New York Automobile Dealers Association, championed Hochul, according to a disclosure report.
Theresa Russo is the company’s CEO. Russo, co-managing director Doug Clark, and other office executives are featured in the lobbying report showing their recent collaboration with Hochul. Russo once worked for Giuliani and Paterson.
Russo and Clark emailed CNBC to tell Hochul that they have known Hochul since their time in Congress and look forward to working on behalf of their clients with the new government.
“She has always been a person of great integrity and intelligence – qualities that will serve her well at the start of this new chapter,” said Russo and Clark in a joint statement. “We have spoken to her as lieutenant governor on behalf of clients and have always appreciated her willingness to listen to all sides of a problem.”
Dickinson & Avella
Dickinson & Avella, another Albany store that has a number of corporate clients, also championed Hochul.
Lobbying took place between May and June for Silvercup Services, which shares the same address as Silvercup Studios, one of the largest film and television production studios in New York City. Projects filmed at Silvercup Studios include Spike Lee’s “Do the Right Thing” and the hit HBO series “Succession” and “The Sopranos”.
Michael Avella and Christina Dickinson, both partners in the firm, are featured in the lobbying report. It is said that they had reached a direct agreement with Hochul on a state law on a film tax credit.
The company’s officials did not respond to requests for comments.
A Hochul representative did not respond to a request for comment prior to publication.