Tomorrow night over at CitiField there is a fundraiser scheduled to raise money that will be used to help Claire Shulman pay off her fine-the largest lobbying fine in city history-for failing to register as a lobbyist for her work on behalf of the Willets Point development. As the NY Times pointed out last year, Shulman's LDC was established, with money from the city's EDC, for the purpose of creating the impression that the Willets Point project had grass roots support.
When the controversy was uncovered, through the diligence of Willets Point United, Shulman was eventually fined over $59,000 by the City Clerk's Office. When it was pointed out that the funding for Shulman's group was overwhelmingly public money, a spokesman told the NY Daily News, "The fines will be paid from private donations, not city funds, Shulman's spokesman said."
Hence tomorrow's fundraiser headlined by, of all people, former Met Ed Kranepool. But the issue of the legality of Shulamn's actions-and that of her Willets Point Flushing East Elmhuirst Corona LDC-is still unresolved at this juncture; and we are awaiting the conclusion of an investigation launched by AG Andrew Cuomo.
Another interesting wrinkle in these machinations involving Shulman is the fact that she has apparently went back to her lobbying filings for 2007 and 2008, and has amended her compensation drastically downward-and has ceased to register as a lobbyist foor the current year. Inquiring minds want to know why.
Our own supposition here is that the group's original lobbying work-which we believe to be the major purpose of both why the LDC was established as well as essence of most of its activities-was so extensive that it would run afoul of the IRS restrictions for not-for-profits. Hence here revisionist history with the past years, revisions that indicate misdirection after the fact; an attempt to claim that the group hadn't been the lobbying entity that Shulman herself admitted it was to the Times last year.
With all of this swirling around, it should behoove some of the prospective donors to this questionable entity to hold on to their checkbooks. This LDC has, from the get-go, operated in a less than above board manner-and contributing to any group so it can pay off fines for illegal activities should cause one to pause. Our own message: buyers beware.