Horse-Drawn Carriage Supporters Question the Flowers Pam Anderson Gave Tony Avella

A trade group that Tony Avella has been critical of is asking the city Conflict of Interest Board to look into whether the flowers Avella received from Pamela Anderson (and “all your pals at the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA)!”) violated the city ban on gifts to lawmakers.

A lawyer for the Horse & Carriage Association of New York sent the letter today asking the C.O.I.B. to look into the matter. (Avella wants to pass a ban on horse-drawn carriages.)

The letter, forwarded to reporters by the group’s spokeswoman, says:

On Tuesday, July 29, Mr. Avella accepted and publicized a bouquet of yellow roses presented to him in his Council District Office from the animal activist group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (aka PETA).  PETA has been actively lobbying and attempting to influence members of the City Council, including Mr. Avella, for well over a year.  At their urging, Mr. Avella introduced a piece of legislation last December calling for a ban on the horse carriage industry in New York City.

Our investigation showed that the flowers Mr. Avella accepted were from Ditmars Flowers & Gifts in Queens and valued at approximately $75.00.  We believe Mr. Avella is in complete violation of the ethics rules and gift laws and would appreciate the Conflicts of Interest Board investigating this matter.

But Avella’s Deputy Chief of Staff, David Troise, said there’s no problem with the flowers. In an email to me, Troise explained:

Prior to accepting the flowers from Ms. Anderson, our legislative counsel, Rebecca Sheehan contacted the Executive Director of the Conflict of Interests Board, Mark Davies, to check if the Councilman was allowed to accept the flowers.

Mark Davies informed Ms. Sheehan that we were able to accept the flowers because they are a perishable item and because they could not be returned to the sender. The other stipulation was that the flowers had to be displayed in a public area, which they are.