Board Rejects Attempt to Rescind Contract for LIPA Deal Outreach

Councilmen Gene Cook and Ed Smyth attempted Tuesday to have the Town Board rescind a contract with a public relations firm but were unable to get the matter on the \meeting agenda.

Mercury Public Affairs, a politically connected firm based in New York, was hired for $40,000 to promote information on the proposed tax-assessment settlement involving the Long Island Power Authority and the Northport power plant. 

Accusations have flown, denied by the firm, that it is a lobbyist for LIPA; Newsday has reported that the firm did lobby for PSEG until earlier this summer.

“I am disappointed that none of my other colleagues would agree to be the third vote needed,” to add it to the agenda, Cook said before the meeting.

“I believed that this was an important resolution, as it has come to light that Mercury Public Affairs LLC has been a registered lobbyist for PSEG Long Island since 2013 and, as recently as June 30, 2020, lobbied against legislation (5122A) sponsored by Senator Gaughran limiting LIPA’s ability to recover back taxes against Huntington.  It has also been brought to my attention that Mercury Public Affairs had represented National Grid, in its acquisition of Keyspan.  For these reasons I drafted this resolution as a late starter, because the Huntington Town Board should be transparent in dealing with Huntington taxpayer’s, and the vendors we do business with should be held to the same standards,” Cook said.

One of the partners at Mercury is Michael McKeon, who once served as press secretary to George Pataki when he served as governor, and was head of the group Republicans for Cuomo during his campaigns.

McKeon said last week that Mercury had not sponsored an ad that ran in the Northport Observer.

Michael Marcantonio, candidate for the 12th Assembly district, posted this examination into Mercury and lobbying.




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