By Howard Koplowitz
A high-profile Democratic operative and lobbyist was giving free campaign advice to Gov. David Paterson at the same time he was hired to lobby Paterson on behalf of one of the losing bidders of the Aqueduct video lottery terminal contract.
Bill Lynch’s firm, Bill Lynch Associates, was hired Nov. 1 by Aqueduct bidder SL Green for reasons of “assisting in the venture’s bid for a license to operate the video lottery facility at Aqueduct Race Track,” according to the copy of a contract signed between the two parties listed on the state Public Integrity Commission’s Web site.
While Lynch was hired by SL Green until he parted ways with the bidder last month, he also gave “informal advice” to Paterson, according to Richard Fife, Paterson’s campaign manager before the governor withdrew his election bid Friday.
Paterson, along with state Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan) and state Sen. John Sampson (D-Brooklyn), were responsible for picking the winning bidder for the VLT contract.
Fife disputed a report in the New York Post Monday that Lynch’s actions were an “apparent violation of the law.”
The Post cited a state ethics panel ruling in 2002 that said gifts of services given by a registered lobbyist to a person whom he or she is lobbying is illegal.
Fife said Lynch, who has a “longtime family friendship with the governor,” gave “informal advice” to Paterson “on occasion” and that the actions were “perfectly legal.”
“I talked to lawyers and it’s a non-issue,” Fife said.
Lynch’s Manhattan-based firm received $10,000 for consulting services from Paterson’s campaign committee in October — a month before he was hired by SL Green.
SL Green lost out on the VLT contract to Aqueduct Entertainment Group in a process that has been called into question due to the involvement of the politically powerful southeast Queens minister and former congressman the Rev. Floyd Flake in AEG’s bid.
Flake has a 0.6 percent stake in AEG.
Meanwhile, Flake and fellow AEG investor and rap mogul Jay-Z were expected to be subpoenaed Tuesday in the state inspector general’s probe of the AEG deal, according to the New York Post.
Rap mogul Russel Simmons, who was an adviser to losing VLT bidder Penn National Gaming, was also expected to be subpoenaed, the Post said.
The state inspector general’s office, which earlier confirmed it was investigating the AEG deal to TimesLedger Newspapers, could not be reached for comment.
Fife said Lynch was put back on the governor’s campaign payroll last month.
Lynch, who managed former Mayor David Dinkins’ successful campaign in 1990 and was deputy campaign manager for U.S. Sen. John Kerry’s (D-Mass.) presidential bid in 2004, could not be reached for comment. Lynch’s attorney, election lawyer Henry Berger, declined to comment.
Lynch also served as an adviser to South African leader Nelson Mandela when Mandela was running for president of South Africa and was appointed by then-President Bill Clinton to the Democratic National Committee in 1997.
He served as vice chairman of the body until Mayor Michael Bloomberg appointed him to the city Charter Revision Commission in 2003.
Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 718-260-4573.