A Lawmaker and His Lobbyist Brother

Buried deep in Staten Island Advance reporter Sally Goldenberg’s piece about the plastic bag recycling bill working its way through the City Council is this line: "The council employs the Albany lobbying firm of Brown McMahon & Weinraub LLC, of which [Council sanitation committee chair Michael] McMahon’s brother, Thomas, is a principal. The lobbying firm has earned $18,000 this year for its efforts."

I asked Michael about it.

“He has a client who has a position on the bill,” he told me, referring to his brother. “They did not request the bill. They were not involved in the drafting of the bill. The first time I heard they had a position on the bill is when they came to the hearing.”

“I see no conflict,” he added. However, to dispel any appearance of impropriety at the proper time I will disclose this relationship, which I learned of yesterday. But I see no conflict.”

McMahon also said “the ethics council of the New York City Council has deemed it not to be a conflict of interest.”

I asked when they decided that.

“They tell me that all the time,” he said. “I mean, we quite often take votes against–you know, I’m not the only Council member whose family members are lobbyists. You may have heard of Peter Vallone, Sr.?”