In light of a City Hall News investigation showing that the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee had a “secret contract” in place with the Queens-based consulting and lobbying firm The Parkside Group, Queens County Republican Party Chairman Phil Ragusa is calling for an Attorney General investigation into the highly irregular backroom deal.
According to Queens Republican Party Chairman Phil Ragusa, “The Democratic Party can’t say it stands for reform and good government when lobbyists are running its operations and it would appear being given control over its purse strings. This news report is deeply disconcerting. It shows that not only did the Democrats pull out all stops this election cycle – they may have done so recklessly – ethics and maybe even the law be damned. Today, the Parkside Group is paid exorbitant sums of money by the Democrats. Tomorrow, the Parkside Group will lobby before the same Democrats in Albany. This secret contract is unethical and smacks of a quid pro quo.”
The Democratic Senate Campaign Committee this year alone paid Parkside $2.2 million so far and remains $2.4 million in debt. Parkside billed a total of $500,000 to the individual campaigns of Democratic candidates including Queens representatives Tony Avella, Toby Stavisky, José Peralta and Mike Gianaris.
The amount of money involved here is staggering. Compound this with the requirement that candidates and incumbents hire the Parkside Group coupled with the power that the Parkside Group has to strongly influence on who gets backing makes a conflict ridden situation even worse.
GOP Spokesman Robert Hornak added “The Democratic Senate Campaign Committee may have stepped over the line by allowing paid consultants to decide or have substantial influence over where to allocate Party support. This arrangement looks a little too much like the extortive back room deals that landed the Clarence Norman run Brooklyn Democratic machine in hot water and eventually resulted in jail sentences.”
“Senator-elect Tony Avella ran on promising to clean up and reform Albany. However, having sworn allegiance to scandal plagued Senate Democratic Leader John Sampson – even before taking his oath of office – is extremely baffling,” Hornak continued. “Then again, owing his election to The Parkside Group, with its secret contracts with Albany leaders, may begin to explain that after all.”