Thursday, April 13, 2006

Common Cause/NY press release

As New Yankee Stadium Appears Headed for Victory, Common Cause/NY Releases Data on Lobby Spending

(April 13 NYC) Today, Common Cause/NY released new data showing that the New York Yankees have spent $1,049,621 lobbying for a new stadium in Albany and New York City since 2003. The Yankees owner, president and COO have also given $25,600 in campaign contributions on the state and city levels during the same time period.

This month, the City Council voted by a large margin to support the project, though a second Council vote on the stadium financing plan remains for later in April. Last year, the state legislature introduced in June and passed in July a bill that cleared the way for the Yankees to use city-owned parkland to build their stadium.

"The seeming success of the Yankees in securing a new stadium makes an interesting contrast to the West Side stadium debate of the last few years," said Megan Quattlebaum, Common Cause/NY's Associate Director. "With the West Side stadium, we saw two companies with an amazing capacity to engage in political spending raging a loud and expensive public debate over the issue. With the Yankees, you have one company lobbying quietly but consistently in Albany and New York City, and no other voice in the debate."

Since January 2003, the Yankees have spent a total of $1,049,621 lobbying in New York City and in Albany, according to their filings with the New York Temporary State Commission on Lobbying. To conduct their campaign they hired powerful insider lobbyists, including Powers and Co. headed by former aide to U.S. Senator Al D'Amato and former Chairman of the New York State Republican Party William Powers. They also hired Brian R. Meara Public Relations, headed by Brian Meara, commonly described in the press as a close friend of Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver.

The Yankees Entertainment and Sports Network, launched in 2002 by Yankees owner George Steinbrenner, who now owns 60% of the network, has spent $270,850 in campaign contributions since 2003 and spent $340,416 lobbying on the state and city levels during the same time period. The YES Network does not list lobbying on the stadium on its reports.

The analysis is part of the "Connect the Dots" series, which seeks to educate the general public about how money in politics influences a wide variety of issues in New York.

Common Cause/NY is a citizen's lobby with more than 20,000 members across New York State whose goal is open and accountable government


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