A Democratic campaign guru is running a consulting firm whose clients lobby the city while at the same time getting paid $150,000 a year in taxpayer money working on Council Speaker Adrienne Adams’ central budgeting staff.
And the double duty is drawing howls of “conflict of interest.”
Jonathan Yedin, founder of the firm Power Play Strategies and whose clients include the powerful United Federation of Teachers, which heavily lobbies Big Apple politicians, holds the controversial dual gig, The Post has learned.
“You can’t serve two bosses. There’s a built-in conflict of interest. Pick one or the other and do it,” said John Kaehny, who runs the government watchdog group Reinvent Albany.
“You have to be fully committed to the public interest or you have to quit and build your campaign business. You can’t do both. Trying to do both is a mistake.”
Yedin’s LinkedIn page lists his Power Play Strategies firm as his current employment and makes no mention of working on the Council Speaker’s staff.
His firm’s website boasts a client list that, aside from the UFT, also includes the Super PAC Nicole is Complicit, which was aimed at defeating GOP Rep. Nicole Malliotakis (Staten Island/Brooklyn), as well as numerous Democratic candidates, including. several serving on the City Council — Finance Committee Chairman Justin Brannan of Brooklyn, Athea Stevens of The Bronx and Nantasha Williams of Queens.
Empire Center for Public Policy fellow Ken Girardin said Yedin’s dual role is a “massive conflict of interest” after seeing the teachers’ union listed as one of his clients.
“The UFT exists for one reason — to lobby the government,” Girardin said.
“If you are working for the city government, you have an obligation to the city government.”
He also has done campaign work for Staten Island DA Michael McMahon and lists Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone as a client.
Yedin works as a “special adviser” to the director of the Council’s finance division. According to the payroll website See Through NY, he makes an annual salary of $150,000.
“This doesn’t pass the smell test. It’s greedy,” said Republican consultant Bill O’Riley.
O’Riley said there are “hundreds of millions of dollars” at stake in the city budget and Yedin could use his influence to help his political clients over non-clients with his insider Council role.
“It opens up a whole can of worms. It’s corruption waiting to happen. It’s not just that he can look after his clients in the Council. He can look after the donors of his clients seeking government funding.”
Yedin is a pal of Brooklyn Councilman Justin Brannan and previously worked on Brannan’s council staff before getting bumped to a higher paid gig working for the entire Council.
The Post previously exposed Yedin for placard abuse while working for Brannan.
Yedin and the Council both defended the dual role.
Yedin told The Post he’s following all the ethics rules outlined by the Conflicts of Interest Board and the Council.
“I strictly follow the clear guidance set forth by the COIB in addition to the Council’s own internal requirements as per the Office of the General Counsel. Suggesting otherwise is nothing more than a cynical and politically-motivated attack,” he said.
A City Council spokesperson said, “The City’s conflicts of interest rules allow city employees to be business owners and serve as paid consultants on political campaigns, provided these outside activities are not conducted on city time or with city resources and follow any further guidance from the Conflicts of Interest Board.”
Council insiders said there are other Council staffers who get paid to do campaign work, which is permissible.
But these staffers basically do the campaign work for the one council person he or she works for — not the CEO of an extensive campaign consulting operation working with a well paid, prominent post on the Council Speaker’s central staff.