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Monday, February 1, 2010

NYC BOE Attorney Joel I Klein Hires Maura Keaney As Executive Director of "External Afffairs" One Day After COIB Fines Her


Now isn't this interesting. Joel Klein, the Attorney who calls himself the Chancellor (without a contract) of the New York City Schools hires a woman named Maura Keaney - despite a hiring freeze - for the position as "Executive Director" of the Office of External Affairs - whatever that is - exactly one day after the Conflicts of Interest Board fines her for violating city law by soliciting campaign contributions for Ms. Christine Quinn while working at NY City Council.

C'mon, Joel, you need to put your foot where your mouth is.

Betsy Combier

From: Communications
Sent: Monday, February 01, 2010 2:44 PM
To: &All Tweed; &All Central HQ


February 1, 2010

N-43, 2009-10


Schools Chancellor Joel I. Klein today announced the appointment of Maura Keaney as the Department of Education’s Executive Director of External Affairs. Ms. Keaney will oversee the Department’s legislative and government affairs, media relations, community relations, and family engagement and advocacy. Ms. Keaney most recently served as Field Director of Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s 2009 re-election campaign. She previously served as Deputy Chief of Staff to City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn and Deputy National Political Director and New York State Political Director of UNITE HERE. She succeeds Micah Lasher, whom Mayor Bloomberg has appointed to serve as the City’s Director of State Legislative Affairs.

“Maura is an innovative thinker and advocate with a record of serving the interest of New Yorkers from positions both in and outside of government,” Chancellor Klein said. “Her experience in working with large and diverse communities across the City will be an enormous asset as we continue our work over the next four years to transform public schools.”

“Maura has consistently proven herself to be one of the most passionate and hardest working public servants in New York City,” Speaker Quinn said. “For years I was fortunate enough to have Maura as an integral part of my team, and our schoolchildren will be lucky to have her talent and experience working for them.”

“Working with the DOE to build on its school reforms is as exciting an opportunity as I could hope for,” Ms. Keaney said. “I’m extremely grateful that I will be part of an effort that will make our City better for families, and especially children.”

Ms. Keaney will join the Department of Education on February 3.

Contact: David Cantor (212) 374-5141

February 2, 2010
Ethics Panel Fines Ex-Aide to Speaker

A former deputy chief of staff to Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn who recently served as a top aide to Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s re-election effort has been fined for violating city law by soliciting campaign contributions for Ms. Quinn while working for her.

In announcing the sanction on Monday, the city’s Conflicts of Interest Board said in a statement that around April 2007, the former aide, Maura Keaney, made between six and a dozen phone calls to union representatives to ask them to be on the host committee for a fund-raising event for Ms. Quinn’s re-election bid. The ethics board, which fined Ms. Keaney $2,500, noted that serving on the host committee required a campaign contribution.

The board noted that it is generally illegal for high-ranking appointed city officials to make these solicitations and that Ms. Keaney “acknowledged that she violated the city’s conflicts of interest law, which prohibits an individual with substantial policy discretion, such as she was at the time,” from seeking donations for a city elected official or candidate for office.

At the time that Ms. Keaney was helping to arrange the May 14 fund-raiser at the large union called Unite Here — where she had once been a political director — she was also working on a key piece of legislation with serious advantages for the city’s labor unions. She played a major role in drafting a law to overhaul the city’s campaign finance system that excluded New York’s powerful unions from new strictures on the amount of money that companies and individuals doing business with the city can provide to candidates.

Early last year, Ms. Keaney, with her access to organized labor, quit her post with the speaker to take a job with Mr. Bloomberg to run field operations for his re-election bid. After the mayor’s victory, she got a $150,000 bonus from him for overseeing his get-out-the-vote operation, one that helped to produce a smaller than expected margin of victory for an incumbent who spent in excess of $100 million to win a third term.

And on Monday, several hours after the Conflicts of Interest Board announced its settlement with Ms. Keaney, the chancellor of New York City schools, Joel I. Klein, announced that Ms. Keaney had been appointed executive director of external affairs for the city’s Department of Education.

Ms. Keaney’s responsibilities will include overseeing the department’s legislative and government affairs and media and community relations. Ms. Keaney had been in talks to take the senior-level job for several weeks. She will be paid $143,000 annually.

“Maura has been a committed and energetic public servant and was a valued employee of the City Council,” Ms. Quinn said. “I am confident she will continue to find ways to serve New Yorkers in the future.”

At the time of the fund-raiser in question, Ms. Quinn was said to be considering a run for mayor, but eventually sought and won re-election to the Council in 2009. Ms. Keaney’s role in the fund-raiser was disclosed in a New York Times article in October in which she would then say only, via an e-mail message, “This event was two and a half years ago, and I just don’t remember that much about it.”

But in statements given to the Conflicts of Interest Board that it released on Monday, she was able to provide significant details about her role in planning the event, for which tickets cost $250 and $500 a person. “During a discussion of fund-raising ideas for the re-election campaign of Council Speaker Quinn, I volunteered to assist with a fund-raising event planned for labor unions,” she said in the stipulation and disposition. “Shortly thereafter, I made between approximately 6 and 12 calls to union representatives to ask that they serve on the host committee for the event, which role would have required a contribution.” She added in the documents that she also contacted Unite Here to ask the union to donate space for the event.

On Monday, Ms. Keaney did not return a call or respond to an e-mail message seeking comment. But her lawyer, Arnold N. Kriss, said in an e-mail message, “Maura had no intention to violate the City Charter when she made a small number of volunteer fund-raising calls on her own time, not on city property” and “using her personal telephone.”

Ms. Keaney told the Conflicts of Interest Board, according to its documents, that she stopped making the calls to the unions after Ms. Quinn’s chief of staff told her that they were “inappropriate.” She added, “I stopped immediately and had no further involvement in campaign fund-raising for Council Speaker Quinn while I served as her deputy chief of staff.”

Asked why the Council’s chief of staff, Charles E. Meara, did not notify the Conflicts of Interest Board about Ms. Keaney’s union calls, a Quinn spokesman, Jamie McShane, said, “Managers clearly have discretion when there is a one-time, self-corrected error.”

Asked whether Ms. Quinn would return the labor money raised as a result of the calls, Josh Isay, a political consultant to Ms. Quinn, said she would not. “These are all longtime supporters of her campaigns,” he said.

Mr. Kriss said that about a week after Ms. Keaney read The Times’s account of her solicitations to union officials, he contacted the Conflicts of Interest Board on her behalf to discuss the matter.

Michael Barbaro contributed reporting.

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