Pol sees no conflicts having son as lobbyist for State Senator
BY Kenneth Lovett DAILY NEWS ALBANY BUREAU CHEIF
Thursday, June 4th 2009, 4:00 AM
Goldfield for News/Goldfield, Ken, Freelance, NYDN
Toby Ann Stavisky's son, Evan, is a lobbyist for a firm that goes before his mother - and also lists her as a client, the Daily News has learned
ALBANY - Senate education bigwig Toby Ann Stavisky's son is a lobbyist for a firm that goes before his mother - and also lists her as a client, the Daily News has learned.
Evan Stavisky is a partner with The Parkside Group, which has a client list that includes SUNY-Buffalo and several CUNY entities, including Queens College.
Toby Ann Stavisky (D-Queens) became head of the Higher Education Committee in January, when Democrats took control of the state Senate.
Parkside, which also does political consulting for a host of elected officials, lists the senator as a client, and records show she paid the firm more than $200,000 last year.
Toby Ann Stavisky and Parkside deny there is any undue influence.
"My son does not lobby me or even discuss his clients with me," she said. Other members of the firm lobby the senator, insiders said.
Parkside President Harry Giannoulis insisted his firm adheres to "the highest ethical standards."
"Although the law contains no prohibition, Evan Stavisky does not lobby his mother on higher education, or any other issues, period," Giannoulis said.
Yet government watchdog groups say there is an appearance of impropriety.
"The public perception is there is definitely an inside track - it's mother and son," said Barbara Bartoletti of the state League of Women Voters.
Susan Lerner, of Common Cause-New York, said the senator should recuse herself from all issues involving clients of her son's firm.
"Whether the child, the lobbyist, is hired because they are going to talk directly to his parent or not is irrelevant," Lerner said. "We know why they are being hired. It's influence."
Toby Ann Stavisky said she has no plans to recuse herself.
"There's no need," she said. "There are times when I oppose some of their client's positions. I deal with each issue on the merits."
Former Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno took heat when his son, a former district attorney, quit his job to become a lobbyist. The younger Bruno lobbied the Senate, but his father insisted the two did not talk business.
Besides SUNY-Buffalo and Queens College, other higher education clients listed on Parkside's Web site are Plaza College, CUNY Creative Arts Team, CUNY Graduate Center Foundation and Queensborough Community College.
The influential firm also does political consulting for Evan Stavisky's brother-in-law Ken Zebrowski (D-Rockland).
Toby Ann Stavisky in 1999 was the first woman from Queens elected to the state Senate, filling the seat of her late husband, Leonard Stavisky.
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