Lobbying regulators for the last year have pressured Kat Sullivan, a supporter of the Child Victims Act, to register to lobby after she paid for billboards and a plane to fly a banner in support of the measure. For Sullivan, the issue is a personal one: She was raped while a student at Emma Willard in Troy.
"They're not designed to be doing this. This is not what should be done, this is wrong," Sullivan said.
But now Sullivan has an ally in the Legislature. Assemblyman Charles Lavine this week wrote a letter to the Joint Commission on Public Ethics, known as JCOPE, questioning why the agency is pursuing the lobbying case against her. Failure for Sullivan to register could result in a minimum fine of $25,000. Lavine said the commission is not functioning the way it was intended to when he voted to create it.
"It troubled me greatly that someone who has gone through what Ms. Sullivan has gone through now has to contend with the actions of a state agency," Lavine said.
The commission's investigations are meant to be content neutral, pursing cases regardless of who or what is at issue. But Lavine did not rule out the possibility of changing the lobbying law as a result of the commission's efforts to have Sullivan register to lobby. Sullivan says she needs more help.
"I need for other people to do the right thing and contact JCOPE and let them know how this feels for them as an observer of watching a victim be revictimized by a system that victimized them in the first place," Sullivan said.
Sullivan, meanwhile, is also critical of the lobbying commission's chairman, Michael Rozen, who mediated settlement money on behalf of Penn State in the Jerry Sandusky case. Sullivan says that's a conflict of interest.
"It's unconsciousnable he has not recused himself at this point. I had to find out through use of lawyers this conflict even existed in the first place," Sullivan said.
Commission spokesman Walt McClure declined to comment, but noted the agency does have a process for commissioners to recuse themselves when a conflict arises. The commission is due to meet about Sullivan's case in September.