ALBANY, N.Y. — Dozens of celebrities may be running afoul of a law requiring lobbyists to register with the state as they unite under the banner of one group that is seeking to prevent a method of gas drilling in New York.
Artists Against Fracking opposes hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, and boasts members including Yoko Ono and actors Mark Ruffalo and Susan Sarandon.
The group says forcing water and chemicals deep into shale deposits to extract gas threatens drinking water and the environment. The group’s website implores, “Tell Governor Cuomo: Don’t Frack New York.”
But the group and nearly 200 entertainers who are gaining attention and support in the dispute, which is splitting New Yorkers, aren’t registered lobbyists, according to a search by The Associated Press of the database of the state Joint Commission on Public Ethics. State law is designed to disclose who is trying to influence government action, how much money they are spending and where the money’s going.
“You spend money lobbying, you have to register,” said David Grandeau, former executive director of the state lobbying commission and now an attorney representing lobbyists and clients.
“It’s clear lobbying,” Grandeau said Monday after seeing the AP article. The state lobbying commission “missed the boat,” he said.
A good-government advocate said the state Joint Commission on Public Ethics, known as JCOPE, which regulates lobbying, needs to look into the case.
There’s no public record of how much money Artists Against Fracking has spent. .