Friday, August 24, 2007

Columbia University Paid Law Firm $2.6 Million To Lobby In 2005

Columbia University also spent over $37.3 million in “legal fees” between July 2004 and June 2005, according to its Form 990 for 2004 financial filing. The corporate law and lobbying firm of Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel LLP (, with Midtown Manhattan offices at 1177 Ave. of the Americas, was paid over $2.6 million by Columbia University between July 2004 and June 2005.

According to data posted on the New York Temporary State Commission on Lobbying’s web site, Columbia University paid Kramer Levin over $900,000 in 2004 to lobby on behalf of Columbia’s special interests before government agency lobbying “targets” such as New York City Planning Commission members. In 2005, Columbia University then paid Kramer Levin an additional $258,906 to lobby for Columbia; and, in 2006, $518,000 more was paid by Columbia to Kramer Levin to lobby local and state government agencies for Columbia. Yet another $226,443 lobbying contract was given to Kramer Levin by Columbia University during the first six months of 2007, according to the New York Temporary State Commission on Lobbying’s data.

One of the partners involved in the Land Use practice division in the Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel law firm that lobbies for Columbia University is Gary Tarnoff. According to the Kramer Levin website, Tarnoff apparently once worked in the New York City Corporation Counsel’s office as a former Deputy Chief of the Administrative Law Division who advised the New York City Mayor’s Office on “land use, zone and regulatory matters.”

Columbia University’s Kramer Levin attorneys appear regularly before City and State agencies that have land use jurisdiction like the City Council, the City Planning Commission and the Manhattan Borough President; and the law firm’s website notes that it is “advising a prominent university with numerous real estate holdings on zoning and development issues and obtaining land use approvals for all of its new development projects.” Columbia’s legal and lobbying representatives are also “representing a major media corporation in the development of an enlarged headquarters facility by securing…zoning approvals for a 120,500 square foot floor area bonus” and “securing tax exemptions…for developers of office buildings, hotels, retail buildings and other commercial projects.”

Next: Columbia University Uses Israeli-Connected Law Firm To Lobby