Melissa DeRosa started her new job Monday as Secretary to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Formerly his chief of staff, DeRosa has worked for his office for more than four years. She’s the first woman to hold the position as the governor’s top aide — but she’s not the first DeRosa to be involved with the Cuomo administration.  

Melissa DeRosa’s father Giorgio — whose lobbying firm Bolton St. Johns LLC, citing the Albany Times, touts him as “one of the best lobbyists in town” — has been behind the lobbying efforts of dozens of industries over the past decade, according to the New York State government’s lobbying database.  His firm’s clients include several hundred companies that stand to be affected by lawmaking in Albany — like Airbnb, for example, which gave Bolton St. Johns between $80,000 and $150,000 annually since 2012 to lobby, at least in part, the office in which Melissa DeRosa now works, records show.

The new secretary to the governor “is in a minefield of potential conflicts of interest,” said John Kaehny, director of government transparency advocacy group Reinvent Albany. DeRosa and Cuomo need to “show New Yorkers how she is going to navigate that,” he said.

Cuomo spokesperson Rich Azzopardi responded to International Business Times questions about possible conflicts of interests by sending a statement slamming Kaehny, saying “Who funds your organization exactly?”

Azzopardi also said: “This is nothing new. Melissa, both here and in the Attorney General’s office, has long been recused from matters involving her family for years.  As the lead negotiator of the MTA’s capital plan, and the person who spearheaded the Governor successful campaigns for a $15 minimum wage, the strongest paid family leave in the nation, and the Excelsior scholarship program, she has spent her time in public service trying to improve the lives of New Yorkers.” 

He said the Cuomo administration has at times made decisions in opposition to Bolton St. Johns clients' wishes.

Azzopardi included a separate statement from DeRosa saying:  “There should always be scrutiny around the people in high levels of government — that’s the way this is supposed to work.  This is not a new issue for me — my father went into this line of work over 25 years ago, and I have been involved in government and politics for over a decade.  Regardless of my job title, I have always conducted myself with the highest ethical standards and will continue to.  I have fully complied with the public officers law recusal policy for years and am working with JCOPE (New York's Joint Commission on Public Ethics) to ensure the highest standards are met as I take on this new role to avoid even the appearance of impropriety. I feel honored to have the opportunity to serve the people of this state and it's a responsibility I do not take lightly.” 

IBT's review of state lobbying records found that other Bolton St. Johns clients include the pharmaceutical and health care firms Medtronic Inc., Exela Pharma Sciences LLC, athenahealth Inc., Trillium Health and Pfizer Inc. For the latter, Bolton St. Johns was part of a multi-firm lobbying effort involving, among other health care legislation, state policies related to drug price gouging.

Bolton St. Johns has also lobbied on behalf of Verizon Communications, the American Petroleum Institute, a trade organization representing securities and banking professionals and both a police union and a coalition to rein in police abuses, along with hundreds of others corporations and groups. Google Inc. and Intel Corp., along with various other trade groups and unions from varying sectors, colleges, charter schools, education programs and energy companies, were also in the mix.

One of Bolton St. Johns’ longtime clients, the Committee for Taxi Safety Inc., is an avowed enemy of Uber — the employer of Melissa DeRosa’s husband, Matt Wing, a former Cuomo press secretary and the ride-sharing company’s current corporate communications lead. The Committee for Taxi Safety paid Bolton St. Johns $373,167 last year for lobbying efforts involving state Senate and Assembly bills on insurance and regulation for “transportation network companies,” according to the lobbying database.

Uber has pushed forward its own share of similar New York State-level lobbying efforts through other firms as well, throwing tens of thousands of dollars each year since 2013 at legislation related to “driver hour limits,” “insurance for ridesharing” and “autonomous vehicles,” among other subjects, state lobbying records show.

DeRosa will be replacing the former lobbyist William Mulrow, who will head back to the private equity firm Blackstone Group LP, where he formerly worked as a managing director and for which he was a registered lobbyist as recently as late 2014. He will also reportedly be serving as chairman of Cuomo’s reelection campaign in 2018.

Updated 4/24, 7:00 pm: This story has been updated to include new statements from Cuomo's office.

Correction: 4/25, 7:30 am: Matt Wing is corporate communications lead at Uber, not head of corporate communications for the northeast.