A day after a top aide to Gov. Andrew Cuomo signaled plans to broadly overhaul the state’s education structure, Success Academy Charter Schools CEO Eva Moskowitz registered the organization as a lobby entity, a filing with state ethics regulators shows.
Moskowitz is a prominent figure in the charter school advocacy world and registering the group to lobby was likely done out of an abundance of caution as the coming legislative session was expected to be dominated by education issues.
The lobbying period will cover Jan. 1 of this year through the end of the current Legislature now seated, 2016.
Advocates are required to register as lobbying when they expect their activities to cost more than $5,000.
In the past, Success Academy Charter Schools have relied on several prominent lobbying shops in Albany and New York City, including Albany Strategic Advisors, Dan Klores Communications, Patricia Lynch Associates and Bender Cantone Consulting.
The NY Times reported that Governor Cuomo himself helped organize a Success Academy lobbying effort last year - and raked in donations from charter backers:
It was a frigid February day in Albany, and leaders of New York City’s charter school movement were anxious. They had gone to the capital to court lawmakers, but despite a boisterous showing by parents, there seemed to be little clarity about the future of their schools.Then, as they were preparing to head home, an intermediary called with a message: Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo wanted to meet.To their surprise, Mr. Cuomo offered them 45 minutes of his time, in a private conference room. He told them he shared their concern about Mayor Bill de Blasio’s ambivalence toward charter schools and offered to help, according to a person who attended but did not want to be identified as having compromised the privacy of the meeting.In the days that followed, the governor’s interest seemed to intensify. He instructed charter advocates to organize a large rally in Albany, the person said. The advocates delivered, bringing thousands of parents and students, many of them black, Hispanic, and from low-income communities, to the capital in early March, and eclipsing a pivotal rally for Mr. de Blasio taking place at virtually the same time.The moment proved to be a turning point, laying the groundwork for a deal reached last weekend that gave New York City charter schools some of the most sweeping protections in the nation, including a right to space inside public buildings. And interviews with state and city officials as well as education leaders make it clear that far from being a mere cheerleader, the governor was a potent force at every turn, seizing on missteps by the mayor, a fellow Democrat, and driving legislation from start to finish.Mr. Cuomo’s office declined on Wednesday to comment on his role.As the governor worked to solidify support in Albany, his efforts were amplified by an aggressive public relations and lobbying effort financed by a group of charter school backers from the worlds of hedge funds and Wall Street, some of whom have also poured substantial sums into Mr. Cuomo’s campaign (he is up for re-election this fall). The push included a campaign-style advertising blitz that cost more than $5 million and attacked Mr. de Blasio for denying space to three charter schools.A lot was riding on the debate for Mr. Cuomo. A number of his largest financial backers, some of the biggest names on Wall Street, also happened to be staunch supporters of charter schools. According to campaign finance records, Mr. Cuomo’s re-election campaign has received hundreds of thousands of dollars from charter school supporters, including William A. Ackman, Carl C. Icahn, Bruce Kovner and Daniel Nir.Kenneth G. Langone, a founder of Home Depot who sits on a prominent charter school board, gave $50,000 to Mr. Cuomo’s campaign last year. He said that when the governor asked him to lead a group of Republicans supporting his re-election, he agreed because of Mr. Cuomo’s support for charter schools.“Every time I am with the governor, I talk to him about charter schools,” Mr. Langone said in an interview. “He gets it.”Daniel S. Loeb, the founder of the hedge fund Third Point and the chairman of Success Academy’s board, began leaning on Wall Street executives for donations. Later this month, he will host a fund-raiser for Success Academy at Cipriani in Midtown Manhattan; tickets run as high as $100,000 a table.
It is not an accident that Success Academy registered as a lobbying entity one day after a Cuomo aide sent a broadside against the public education system.
You can bet there's some coordination between the charter industry and the Cuomo administration every step of the way this budget season already, just as there was last year when Cuomo championed the Eva Moskowitz Rent Bill, and that coordination will go all the way until Eva Moskowitz gets everything she wants this legislative session.