This is most lucrative time in history to be a lobbyist in City Hall. As per the NY Daily News, the total pay for lobbyist has been rising consistently for the past three years. City data has revealed that last year, total compensation for lobbyists was $95.4 million, well above the $86 million in 2015, and distinctly ahead of the $62 million that lobbyists earned in 2013, during the last year of Bloomberg’s administration.
Mayor de Blasio's longtime chum James Capalino is at the top of the income ladder. Capalino's firm made $13.5 million in 2016, and $12.8 million in 2015. U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara is still investigating Rivington House fiasco, where a nursing home was converted to luxury condominiums in the Lower East side. Among other high-powered clients, Capalino worked with both the original seller and developer in that deal. Capalino has denied that his firm was involved in the controversial removal of the deed restriction. Last fall the mayor said that he would no longer meet with the veteran City Hall insider.
Capalino has been a major donor to de Blasio’s causes, donating $10,000 to Campaign for One New York, the mayor’s nonprofit. The lobbyist’s clients, including RAL Development and Cipriani USA, also donated to the nonprofit. Campaign for One New York raised $4.3 million, before Mayor de Blasio abruptly shut it down in May. RAL is no longer a client of Capalino.
Another big earner in 2016, was the lobbying company Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel. Last year, the company earned over $3 million by lobbying, ranking seventh in the list of the city’s top 10 highest-earning lobbyists. The law firm is also representing the mayor in the probe into his fundraising tactics. The mayor has yet to pay any of those bills, saying he will first set up a legal defense fund.
By Helen Zaboulani