From City Hall:
According to the terms of a contract kept secret during the campaign, the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee was prepared to sign over a full 80 percent of all money spent on political mailers, radio commercials and robo-calls for the 2010 campaign cycle to one firm: the Parkside Group.
Stunning several people involved and a number of outside campaign operatives, the contract—which was ultimately discarded amid internal disagreements about spending decisions—guaranteed that this massive percentage of campaign business was required of both the DSCC and all money transferred to individual campaigns by the DSCC. And it almost went even further: the original draft of the contract limited firms other than Parkside to 10 percent of mailers, radio commercials and robo-calls—in other words, guaranteeing the firm 90 percent of this business for the DSCC and candidates it was supporting.
The contract also contained a clause triggering repercussions: if any of the candidates running with the DSCC’s support had used another firm for mailers, radio ads or robo-calls, “the DSCC shall retain the Parkside Group to provide any television media buys made by the DSCC, or the supported candidate or political committee, in that district.”
The contract was signed by DSCC executive director Josh Cherwin after being vetted by the law firm of [Melinda Katz employer] Greenberg Traurig and emailed to Democratic Conference Leader John Sampson’s top aide Paul Rivera, apparently without the prior knowledge or approval of several key members, including DSCC chair Jeff Klein. However, when the contract was presented, there was such resistance that it was never ultimately acted on, and the DSCC instead contracted with a more diverse array of consultants for the remainder of the election season. This included shifting polling and several mail contracts to other firms.
The DSCC’s relationship with the Parkside Group has grown increasingly close over the course of the past year. Sampson was making fundraising calls out of Parkside's offices as far back as January. And though the firm was paid officially only as a vendor, Harry Giannoulis and Evan Stavisky, the two principals of the firm, were involved in internal planning and decisions with the DSCC and conducting polls which helped determine which races the Democrats would prioritize in terms of financial resources going into the November elections. This culminated in a two-week trip Giannoulis and Rivera took over the summer to visit various campaigns and candidates, followed by a memo they wrote and presented to the Democratic leadership in August about where to allocate resources.
Giannoulis, who was the one to sign the contract for Parkside, disputed that there was anything unusual either about Parkside’s contract or with the level of involvement he and Stavisky had with the DSCC.
In 2010 alone, the DSCC reported paying Parkside $2.2 million so far during a cycle that the campaign committee finished the cycle $2.4 million in debt while losing the majority. Parkside also billed a total of $500,000 to the individual campaigns of Democratic candidates David Carlucci, Tony Avella, Toby Stavisky, Andrea Stewart-Cousins, José Peralta, Mike Gianaris and Mike Kaplowitz. This does not include the nearly $200,000 the firm billed Peralta for working on his special election campaign in the spring, nor the $150,000 billed to State Sen. Bill Perkins for his primary campaign.
That amount would not include money which may have been spent out of the DSCC’s housekeeping account, as that committee does not have to file a report until January.
The firm also has a lobbying practice that deals extensively with state government.
Check out this mailer that was sent out during the Democratic primary pointing out Toby Stavisky's blatant conflict-of-interest: