Close friend of Carl Heastie has cashed in as a lobbyist
A close friend and one-time college roommate of Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie has raked in millions of dollars as a lobbyist after the Bronx Democratic boss took the chamber’s top job in 2015.
Patrick Jenkins, 55, a one-time bit player in Albany, saw his fortunes rise significantly when Speaker Sheldon Silver was felled by federal corruption charges and replaced by Heastie, according to a Post review of Joint Commission on Public Ethics disclosure documents.
When Jenkins’ lobbying first appeared in JCOPE docs in 2013, he received just $238,000 in compensation from just five clients. The lion’s share, $95,000, came from the state Trial Lawyers Association. A year later his compensation increased to a still-modest $331,500 and his firm recorded eight paying clients.
With the ascension of Heastie, 55, however, things started heating up. Jenkins firm netted $872,830 in compensation from 20 clients in 2015. And between 2016 and 2021 his company took in between $2.1 million and $3.2 million annually, according to JCOPE.
By 2021 — the most recent records available — he reported 43 paying clients, with the Trial Lawyers Association now paying $480,000.
Jenkins has cashed in with Heastie directly as well. Since 2009, he has received more the $200,000 for political consulting work for Heastie’s campaign committee, public records show.
It’s less clear, however, what consulting services Heastie actually needs. The one-time Bronx Democratic boss typically wins election over Republican opponents with more than 90% of the vote.
Jenkins himself has freely admitted that his ties to Heastie have been good for business.
“I would be naïve if I thought that some people didn’t reach out as a result of knowing my relationship with the speaker,” he told Newsday in 2019.
“It’s no secret they have been best friends since college,” Heastie’s own spokesman told the outlet.
In addition to being roommates and “best friends” at Stony Brook University, Jenkins also spent his early career with the rising Albany star. Between January 2009 and April 2010, Jenkins worked as a special assistant to the assemblyman. On LinkedIN, he lists the job description as “All things Heastie.”
Jenkins’ clients now pay top dollar for his access to Heastie — and the investment has paid off.
The Trial Lawyers Association have worked for years against reforms to the state’s scaffolding law. The 19th-century ordinance is designed to protect workers by creating large accident liability for employers and contractors, but can drive up construction insurance costs and taxpayer outlays by hundreds of millions of dollars on large projects. Heastie has blocked reform efforts, the Albany Times Union reported, and the outdated law remains unchanged.
The Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations paid Jenkins $240,000 in 2019 to lobby Heastie for a state a $30 million reimbursement for STEM teachers in yeshivas and other non-public schools — something they ultimately got in 2022.
And nobody has profited as handsomely as Jenkins’ gambling clients, with the decision by New York to legalize online sports betting. While Heastie was lukewarm on the idea before the pandemic, he had a change of heart in 2020 — the same year Jenkins client Fanduel paid him $50,000 to press the speaker on “legalizing mobile sports betting in New York,” records show.
When the state legalized online sports betting last year, Fanduel and DraftKings, another Jenkins client, were among the first four company’s given a green light by the state gaming commission to start accepting bets from smartphone apps.
The two companies together paid Jenkins $156,000 for services in 2021.
Jenkins has faced scrutiny from the feds and was subpoenaed in 2021 as part of a federal public corruption probe. He was not a target of the investigation and never accused of wrongdoing. His lobbying /campaign consulting gig is legal. The situation has, however, raised eyebrows from both good government groups and some of Heastie’s own colleagues.
“I have issues with somebody who is a registered lobbyist also doing political work. I think that should be separate. Folks in Albany talk a big game about transparency and ethics reform and open government but no one ever walks the walk,” said Assemblyman Chris Tague, a Republican from upstate Schoharie. “It goes directly to the public’s mistrust in government.?
Jenkins is far from the first lobbyist to cash in on close ties to top leaders. In the years when Sheldon Silver reigned supreme, his favorites like Patricia Lynch and Brian Meara, saw equally big paydays, while Bolton-St. Johns saw their fortunes rise after Melissa DeRosa, the daughter of a senior firm partner, became secretary to former Gov. Cuomo.
Blair Horner, Executive Director New York Public Interest Research Group, lamented Jenkins behavior as “par for the course in Albany.”
“Clearly his rise tracks the speaker’s and in Albany, since the place operates behind closed doors, lobbyist that can argue that they have access to people that matter get paid more money.”
Jenkins declined to comment.