Wednesday, March 6, 2013

ML Soccer Biggest Lobbyist In 2012 - High Line Chair's Co Big Winner

John Alschuler, Chairman
Major League Soccer shelled out nearly $1.7 million on lobbying city officials in 2012, the most of any company in the city, according to a new city report. The league had contracts with five separate lobbying firms to help build a stadium in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park.

Most of the MLS’s staggering lobbying fees went to HR&A Associates, a politically connected firm staffed with many ex-city officials.  MLS paid nearly $1.1 million to HR&A Associates run by the Friends Of the High Line board Chair John H. Alschuler, (above) That figure is up from $ 920, 822  paid through parts of December.  HR&A Chairman John H. Alschuler, Jr.  and Cary Hirschstein (below) a principle in the firm were front and center at back-to-back meetings in December representing Major League Soccer in its continued attempt to seize 13 acres in Flushing Meadows Corona Park to build a 35,000 seat stadium and concert venue.

Cary Hirschstein

HR&A also held the distinction of being the second highest in compensation paid to one Lobbying firm in lobbying contacts in 2012.

The $1.7 million spent in total on lobbying however represent only a portion of the funds being spent by MLS and do not account for many expenses including a host of advisors and consultants, including Risa Heller - of Chuck Schumer, and Anthony Weiner scandal spokeswoman fame.  Her former emplyeer - Global Strategy Group raked in $307,800.   


Major League Soccer Paid:

Beaudoin & Company LLC - $ 37, 500  (up from $ 22, 500 in December year-to date)
Bolton St. Johns, LLC -  $  67, 500  (up from $ 52,500 in December year-to date)
Fried Frank Harris Shriver & Jacobson, LLP - $  190,804  (up from $ 133,968  in December year-to date)
Global Strategy Group - $  307, 800  (up from $ 247, 800  in December year-to date)
HR&A Advisors, INC - $  1.090, 612.50   (up from $ 920, 822 in December year-to date)

Total:  $ 1,694,216.50   (up from $ 1.5 million in December year-to date)

Money Well Spent?  In an effort to try and contain the mounting community opposition to the building of the stadium and concert venue last week MLS's commissioner Don Graber tried to put public pressure on the City by threatening to make a deal soon or else they would go elsewhere - a common tactic used by corporations trying extract government subsidies.  

In November Mr. Graber famiously said the league was “at the finish line” in negotiations with the city. However last week he said, "The deal is not near final that would provide us with the ability to have a team that would be successful."

- Geoffrey Croft

City-Wide/ Queens

Major League Soccer’s push to build a new stadium in Queens has boosted it to the top of the list of big spenders on lobbying in the city, new data show.

MLS shelled out $1.7 million on lobbying city officials in 2012, the most of any company, according to a new city report. The league had contracts with five separate lobbying firms. 

Major League Soccer is looking to build a $300 million stadium in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park - a controversial move that needs city approval, according to the New York Daily News. 

Mayor Bloomberg supports the plan, but some pols and local residents oppose it because of the 13 acres of parkland the 25,000 seat stadium would take up. 

Major League Soccer paid $1.1 million to HR&A Advisors, $307,800 to the Global Strategy Group, $190,804 to Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson LLP, $67,500 to Bolton-St. Johns, and $37,500 to Beaudoin & Company.  

MLS said most of the money did not go to pressuring city officials. 

"The majority of this money went to HR&A advisors, the real estate advisors dealing with every technical aspect of developing the stadium including dealing with architects, engineers and financials. They are not lobbyists, but out of an abundance of caution, they registered because they are occasionally in meetings where lobbying takes place. Similarly, Fried Frank is our real estate lawyers, who registered for the same reason,” said spokeswoman Risa Heller.  

But critics hit the payments. "That's just outrageous," said Geoffrey Croft of New York City Parks Advocates.

"Clearly they are influencing the process with our elected officials, and they're getting paid a heck of a lot of money to do it."  

Next up after MLS was Albee Development LLC, which spent $1.1 million on lobbying firms, and the South Street Seaport Limited Partnership, which spent $604,738. 

Also on the top ten list were Cornell, which landed a city deal to build a “genius school” on Roosevelt Island and spent $520,690 on lobbying, and Madison Square Garden, which spent $522,721. 

All told, lobbying firms raked in $62.2 million last year to influence lawmakers and officials, up from $53.3 million the year before.  

Kasirer Consulting LLC took in the most dough of any individual firm, with $6.1 million

Read More:

New York Daily News - March 5, 2013 - By Erin Durkin

A Walk In The Park - December 15, 2013 - By Geoffrey Croft

1 comment:

  1. HR&A is the go-to firm for all Bloomberg development projects, esp. those inside city parks. Atlschuler is responsible for private luxury housing inside Brooklyn Bridge Park and his name is on all the other aggregious city development projects. Incredible but not surprising news. If you want Altschuler to go, vote for Liu or Carion. Quinn and DeBlasio are up to their necks in HR&A deals. The real news about HR&A has yet to be written but it will be.