Albany’s top lobbyists of 2019

The New York State Capitol building in Albany.
The New York State Capitol building in Albany.
Sean Pavone/Shutterstock
The New York State Capitol building in Albany.

Albany’s top lobbyists of 2019

These 10 firms are leading the state in both compensation and influence.
May 3, 2019

Each spring, the state Joint Commission on Public Ethics publishes its annual lobbying report, revealing intriguing details about the ins and outs of lobbying in Albany for the past year, such as which companies shelled out the most money (Uber) and which industries spent the most (health and mental hygiene). But the report also shines the limelight on the players who usually stay behind the scenes by ranking the top 10 lobbying firms by compensation.

This year, as in years past, the status quo stayed largely the same, with Goliaths like Kasirer, Brown & Weinraub and Bolton-St. Johns holding on to the top three spots. The ranks featured only one newcomer, Mercury Public Affairs, inching in at No. 10 to knock Manatt, Phelps & Phillips off the list. We checked in with the top firms to see what accomplishments and challenges they’ve faced in the past year, and to find out how they’re navigating the ever-changing political and regulatory landscape in Albany. The responses have been edited for length and clarity.

1. Kasirer

Suri Kasirer 2018.JPG

Suri Kasirer
Alt Text: 
Suri Kasirer
Suri Kasirer

President

2018 compensation: $12,847,463

Key employee: Executive Vice President Julie Greenberg

Key industries: Real estate, urban planning and land use, corporate and nonprofit entities, health care, tech, media and education

Notable clients: American Traffic Solutions, Charter Communications, T-Mobile, Motion Picture Association of America, NBCUniversal and New Yorkers for Clean, Livable, and Safe Streets

What was your firm’s biggest achievement in Albany in 2018?

We worked with other teams, as we often do, and successfully collaborated on the renewal of the film tax credit and on the executive order to restore red light cameras.

What was your firm’s biggest challenge in Albany in 2018?

There’s been a particularly unsettled political climate in Albany this past year. Just as Democrats regained control over the state Senate, some of its newly elected members attempted to move the party further to the left. It created a division at a crucial time when there were calls for unity and made navigating the ever-evolving politics much more difficult.

What sector is facing the most difficult regulatory landscape right now?

The corporate sector has been impacted the most by this year’s political volatility and it will continue to be a trying landscape to navigate.

2. Brown & Weinraub

PatrickBrown-and-david-weintraub.jpg

Patrick Brown and David Weintraub
Alt Text: 
Patrick Brown and David Weintraub
Title Text: 
Patrick Brown and David Weintraub
Description: 
Patrick Brown and David Weintraub
Image Credit: 
submitted

Patrick Brown and David Weinraub

Co-founders

Previous rank: #2

2018 compensation: $12,156,810

Key employees: Recent additions include former state Sen. Kemp Hannon and Patrick Lespinasse, the former director of government and external affairs at Verizon

Key industries: Health care and human services, financial services, technology infrastructure and advisory firms, education, gaming, and developers in all fields from alternative energy to housing

Notable clients: Dow Chemical, Healthcare Association of New York State, Metropolitan Life Insurance Co., New York State Building and Construction Trades Council

What was your firm’s biggest achievement in Albany in 2018?

Our support and work with charities at home and abroad. Members of our team routinely participate in a Day of Simple Giving that helps provide holiday cheer for underprivileged people in our community. We also raised significant support for a charity in Guatemala that provides income generating opportunities for parents to better the lives of their children.

What was your firm’s biggest challenge in Albany in 2018?

Growing strategically in terms of both clients and members of our team. This has meant saying no to some opportunities in favor of those that offered a better fit. Our decisions enabled us to ensure the level of service, attention to detail, informed strategy and successful representation we are committed to provide.

What is the regulatory environment for technology right now?

The landscape for disruptors employing new technologies is challenging. Regulations could not have anticipated the range of applications influencing every sector and every policy area, and bureaucracy is not designed to accommodate the current pace of change. Within the Cuomo administration, however, there are knowledgeable and dedicated public servants eager to learn and improve processes and services. With our help, clients who offer technology solutions to address governmental needs have been introduced to the right people in executive agencies and the Legislature.

3. Bolton-St. Johns

Emily-Giske---Bolton-St-Johns-copy.jpg

Emily Giske
Alt Text: 
Emily Giske
Title Text: 
Emily Giske
Description: 
Emily Giske
Image Credit: 
Bolton St Johns

Emily Giske

Partner

Previous rank: #3

2018 compensation: $9,660,170

Key employees: Partners Giorgio DeRosa, Ed Draves, Bill McCarthy, Tom Connolly, Mike Keogh, Juanita Scarlett

Key industries: Technology, real estate, nonprofit service and advocacy organizations

Notable clients: Committee for Taxi Safety Inc.

What was your firm’s biggest achievement in Albany in 2018?

We have represented a number of advocacy organizations for many years, including the New York Immigration Coalition and Gay Men’s Health Crisis, and this year we have been able to pass a number of bills that will really make a difference in the lives of thousands of New Yorkers. The Immigration Coalition has been working on the DREAM Act for years, which we saw passed in January, and we were able to secure $20 million in the budget for the census count. For GMHC, the passage of Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act sends a message that New York is a place of acceptance and safety for everyone.

What was your firm’s biggest challenge in Albany in 2018?

Albany has changed drastically in the past few years. There has been a significant generational shift and the Legislature is much younger and more diverse than ever before. It’s important to get to know everyone – from the new Assembly members to the new staffers. We have a significant number of younger lobbyists on our staff to keep up with the shifting Legislature.

What sector is facing the most difficult regulatory landscape right now?

With the Democratic shift in the state Senate, there are lots of bills being introduced all of the time. This year, we have seen many new proposed regulations aimed at protecting consumers and New Yorkers generally, and many industries are facing new regulations they have not seen before.

4. Greenberg Traurig

NeJame_Sam.jpg

Sam NeJame
Alt Text: 
Sam NeJame
Title Text: 
Sam NeJame
Description: 
Sam NeJame
Image Credit: 
Submitted
Sam NeJame

Chairman of the New York State Government Law and Policy Practice

Previous rank: #4

2018 compensation: $9,503,506

Key employees: Recent additions include Nicola Coleman, a former deputy counsel to the state Senate majority, and Jennifer Gomez, a former assistant secretary for human services for Gov. Andrew Cuomo

Key industries: Gaming, insurance/financial services, health care, real estate, environmental, energy, transportation, technology, media and education

Notable clients: Recent clients include MGM, Morgan Stanley and the American Investment Council

What was your firm’s biggest achievement in Albany in 2018?

Greenberg Traurig had many successes for clients in 2018. One notable success was working with the New York Legal Assistance Group on a pro bono basis to achieve successful passage of legislation providing parents with the ability to designate a standby guardian for their children, should the parent be detained or deported for immigration-related reasons. It was a GT team effort to get the legislation passed and a rewarding opportunity to protect some of New York’s most vulnerable children.

What was your firm’s biggest challenge in Albany in 2018?

Navigating changes on the federal level and anticipating what the impact will be in New York has kept us busy.

What sector is facing the most difficult regulatory landscape right now?

There is an art to getting the balance of encouraging economic development and prioritizing public benefits just right. Currently, there is increased scrutiny on striking a balance in many sectors, including financial services, energy, real estate and health care.

5. Hinman Straub

SeanDoolanTL.jpg

Sean Doolan
Alt Text: 
Sean Doolan
Title Text: 
Sean Doolan
Description: 
Sean Doolan
Image Credit: 
Submitted
Sean Doolan

Principal

Previous rank: #6

2018 compensation: $6,509,072

Key employees: Terri Crowley, Caron Crummey, Jim Carr, Matt O’Connor and Janet Silver

Key industries: Health care, education, financial services, telecommunication, labor and energy

Notable clients: New York State Conference of BlueCross BlueShield Plans, LeadingAge, Empire State Association of Assisted Living, Con Edison and Verizon

What was your firm’s biggest achievement in Albany in 2018?

Our biggest achievement continues to be our ability to solve client problems with creative and relentless passion. Whether it be negotiating a multibillion-dollar budget issue, protecting the sustainability of a particular client or drafting complex language that mitigates the negative impact of a specific proposal, our comprehensive representation of all clients, large and small, in helping attain their goals remains the hallmark of our success.

What was your firm’s biggest challenge in Albany in 2018?

With a changing political environment, coupled with a hyperactive social media, the biggest challenge has been educating policymakers to take thoughtful and deliberative approaches to issues that may be at the expense of populist and political expediency.

What is the regulatory environment for technology right now?

Advancements in technology frequently result in increased competition and the need for clients to remain nimble. The technology procurement process, while well-intentioned to ensure independence and unbiased decision-making, frequently inhibits the most state-of-the-art and advanced solutions.

6. Capalino+Company

TravisTerryTL-(2).jpg

Travis Terry
Alt Text: 
Travis Terry
Title Text: 
Travis Terry
Description: 
Travis Terry
Image Credit: 
Submitted
Travis Terry

Chief Operating Officer

Previous rank: #7

2018 compensation: $6,414,071

Key employees: CEO James Capalino

Key industries: Real estate, technology, energy, environment, health care and nonprofits

Notable clients: UPS, Macy’s, Somos Community Care, Plaxall, Fair Futures, Times Square Alliance, HNTB, Accenture

What was your firm’s biggest achievement in Albany in 2018?

Our strategy services have seen significant growth over the last year and a lot of that is now focused on the state. We are excited by the reaction of Albany to the Fair Futures campaign, which seeks to increase state reimbursement to 65% to support young people in and aging out of foster care. We were also thrilled to see the Cuomo administration aggressively pursuing offshore wind, energy storage, and other clean energy and climate initiatives that are quite important to our clients.

What was your firm’s biggest challenge in Albany in 2018?

Rather than focus on challenges, we are focused on opportunities that will be realized with the state Senate now being led by Democrats. As a firm with close working relationships with Democratic leadership, our work in Albany has grown and we are looking forward to seeing how issues such as the legalization of recreational marijuana, rent regulations, election reform and the details around congestion pricing play out.

What sector is facing the most difficult regulatory landscape right now?

Real estate and technology. Protecting tenants, ensuring fair living conditions and continuity of housing should be a priority concern. Developing state policy that appropriately balances penalizing bad apples while enabling responsible developers to grow is tough but nonetheless very important work. Technology is also seeing increasing regulations as our systems evolve into more cloud-based structures. It is important that contracts and financing methods accommodate this shift to ensure both innovation as well as protection of citizens.

7. Ostroff Associates

Rick-Ostroff.jpg

Rick Ostroff
Alt Text: 
Rick Ostroff
Title Text: 
Rick Ostroff
Description: 
Rick Ostroff
Image Credit: 
Submitted
Rick Ostroff

President and CEO

Previous rank: #8

2018 compensation: $6,379,158

Key employees: Scott Wexler, Diana Ostroff, Chris Bombardier and Dave Wehner

Key industries: Economic development, health care, finance, transportation, energy and technology

Notable clients: Tesla, Steiner Studios, Walmart, Churchill Downs, Bank of New York Mellon, HNTB, FedEx

What was your firm’s biggest achievement in Albany in 2018?

Thanks to a combination of factors, our clients enjoyed many successes in the last year and we are honored to have played a role in those victories. All of our clients’ issues are important to us, and their successes are born from their ability to educate lawmakers and our elected officials’ dedication to enacting good public policy.

What was your firm’s biggest challenge in Albany in 2018?

Alongside a rapidly changing advocacy world, the Legislature has seen unprecedented turnover in the last year. Engaging new legislators in the public policy forum and keeping up with evolving advocacy trends has been an important part of our work in the last year.

What is the regulatory environment for technology right now?

Our clients have used technology to take industries in directions no one thought of a few years ago. Whether it’s fully electric automobiles, e-scooters or online handyman services, these companies have created thousands of jobs and brought products and services that are environmentally friendly, convenient and easy to access for all New Yorkers. However, state law hasn’t always kept up, which has led to a lot of challenges for policymakers. A single disruptive tech company can trigger issues with state laws, rules and regulations, and agency actions. It’s as much our role to educate regulators as it is to educate our clients of the challenges regulators face, then find the reasonable approach that works for everyone.

8. Park Strategies

Previous rank: #5

2018 compensation: $5,117,234

Key employees: Alfonse D’Amato, Armand D’Amato, Christopher D’Amato, Gregory Serio, David Poleto, Peter Molinaro, Sean King, Megan Osika

Key industries: Technology, energy, health care, telecommunications, transportation and construction

Notable clients: Deloitte, Gladd Foundation, ExxonMobil, Nassau Health Care Corp., Long Island Compost Corp., Microsoft

9. Pitta Bishop & Del Giorno

Bob-Bishop.jpg

Bob Bishop
Alt Text: 
Bob Bishop
Title Text: 
Bob Bishop
Description: 
Bob Bishop
Image Credit: 
Submitted
Robert Bishop

Partner

Previous rank: #9

2018 compensation: $4,880,009

Key employees: Robert Bishop, Theresa Cosgrove, Cesar Cardenas, Nadya Stevens, Matt Mataraso and Jason Hecker

Key industries: Unions, social services and corporations

Notable clients: Transport Workers Union Local 100, Uniformed Sanitationmen’s Association Teamsters Local 831, the Greenburger Foundation and the Correction Officers’ Benevolent Association

What was your firm’s biggest achievement in Albany in 2018?

Our firm has represented as many as 100 clients during the legislative session. Over the course of the past year, we have been able to secure enhanced benefits and improved workplace safety for public employees.

What was your firm’s biggest challenge in Albany in 2018?

We face the same challenge every year: maintaining a client base with which we are in philosophical agreement, and to serve our client base to the best of our ability.

What sector is facing the most difficult regulatory landscape right now?

Uncertainty is the greatest challenge facing organized labor. Unions have been the catalyst for social change and progress and are today facing unprecedented obstacles in the current political world. The income variations between the elite top earners and the average worker have never been greater. In this context, even in a progressive state like New York, organized labor faces a constant struggle.

10. Mercury Public Affairs

JanFeuerstadt.jpg

Jan Feuerstadt
Alt Text: 
Jan Feuerstadt
Title Text: 
Jan Feuerstadt
Description: 
Jan Feuerstadt
Image Credit: 
Submitted
Jan Feuerstadt

Managing Director

Previous rank: New to the list

2018 compensation: $4,618,058

Key employees: Michael McKeon, Charlie King, Fernando Ferrer, Jeff Klein, Patrick Halpin, Patrick McCarthy, Nancy Sciocchetti, Lisa Reid, Jake Dilemani, Greg Lavine

Key industries: Cannabis, transportation, technology, sustainability, energy, real estate, infrastructure, education, gaming, health care and nonprofits

Notable clients: PharmaCan, Agbotic, Western Regional Off-Track Betting Corp., Affirm Inc., Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies

What was your firm’s biggest achievement in Albany in 2018?

Mercury was instrumental in ensuring the passage of medical marijuana. This year, Mercury has been working assiduously for the passage of adult use and expanding New York’s current medical program, but that has required that the proposed bill ensure that communities ravaged by the war on drugs be reinvested in and ensure minority- and women-owned businesses receive meaningful opportunities. Mercury works behind the scenes with smaller local businesses to retain and boost jobs in New York that also send ripples through local economies.

What was your firm’s biggest challenge in Albany in 2018?

Keeping pace with legislative action. The executive and Legislature were able to accomplish a lot to date this year. There is an entirely new landscape in Albany this year. It was more challenging for those that weren’t working on key legislation to gain traction on their agenda in a short time frame.

What is the regulatory environment for technology right now?

Every year we find ourselves working on issues that we never would have imagined 10 years ago. Government has been challenged to keep up with the pace of technological advancements, and they are proceeding thoughtfully. The challenge for the regulatory environment is that they are forced to stay current to the newest innovations.

City & State
20190520