RE: [FJGRailroad] Boehlert: I am not under investigation
- ALso Pataki and box seats at the Super Bowl.
>From: Gino's Railpage <fjgrailroad@...>
>To: FJGRailroad@yahoogroups.com, DOS Group <DOSystem@yahoogroups.com>,
>Subject: [FJGRailroad] Boehlert: I am not under investigation
>Date: Thu, 9 Feb 2006 09:12:40 -0500
>Boehlert: I am not under investigation
>Lobbying commission is looking into events held by Walter Rich
>By Tom Grace
>Cooperstown News Bureau
>Rep. Sherwood Boehlert, R-New Hartford, is not being investigated by
>the New York State Lobbying Commission, the congressman said Monday.
>That commission is examining parties hosted by Boehlert's friend
>Walter Rich to see whether they violated state lobbying rules.
>Every summer on Baseball Hall of Fame weekend, Rich, president and
>chief executive officer of the New York Susquehanna & Western Railway,
>hosts large parties for politicians, including Boehlert.
>The parties are held at Rich's residence, Edgewater, a 19th-century
>brick mansion owned by the NYS&W's parent company, the Delaware-Otsego
>Boehlert said his annual party is well-attended and fun and he always
>pays for services rendered. For his last party there, he paid $10,825,
>according to his spokesman, Sam Marchio.
>"For many people, it's the social event of the summer season in
>Cooperstown, especially if you're a baseball fan," Boehlert said. "And
>I'm a baseball nut."
>But state lobbying regulators have not asked him for information about
>his parties because he is a federal and not a state employee, he said.
>As a House member, Boehlert is subject to the Lobbying Disclosure Act
>and other federal rules. He said that because he and Rich have known
>each other since before 1982, when he was first elected to Congress,
>their relationship comes under the "friendship exception" that allows
>them to exchange gifts.
>"Walter and I are good friends," Boehlert said. "I stood up for him at
>his wedding, and he met his wife at one of my functions.
>"So I don't have to worry. He can't give me a $10,000 party, but he
>can give me gifts and I don't have to report them."
>Nonetheless, Boehlert said, he does not accept gifts from Rich and
>even pays his host when he happens to spend the night at Edgewater.
>"I do that just to make sure everything is above-board," he said.
>David Grandeau, the Lobbying Commission's executive director, said it
>has no authority over federal officials. The current investigation of
>Rich's parties stems from an investigation conducted by the state
>attorney general's and inspector general's offices in 2003-04, he
>When Grandeau was asked Monday what had led the Lobbying Commission to
>investigate Rich's Hall of Fame parties, he cited the 2004 report,
>which states that Rich estimates his Hall of Fame weekend parties cost
>about $100,000 to produce.
>The essence of the lobbying investigation is to determine whether the
>beneficiaries of the parties adequately paid for them or whether the
>parties might constitute gifts. Under state law, politicians can not
>take gifts worth more than $75 from lobbyists.
>Attorney Nathan Fenno, who represents the NYS&W, said Tuesday that
>Rich's HOF weekend parties are not just for politicians.
>"The railroad invites guests, and for the past few years, we've had
>parties for The Salvation Army, too," he said.
>Fenno said Rich and other NYS&W executives believe they have done nothing
>"We've been asked to provide information for the Commission, and we've
>provided it," he said.