New York Nepotism: Hochul Appoints Daughter of Casino Lobbyist

Posted on: January 23, 2024, 03:42h. 

Last updated on: January 23, 2024, 04:16h.

Gov. Kathy Hochul (D-NY) could be fostering criticism for nepotism with her latest appointment to the New York Gaming Commission (NYGC).

Seneca Nation New York gaming compact
New York Gov. Kathy Hochul speaks to reporters on June 7, 2023. She could come under fire for a recent appointment to the New York Gaming Commission (NYGC).(Image: AP)

The Democrat appointed Marissa Shorenstein to the commission. Shorenstein is the daughter of Stuart Shorenstein, a long-time gaming lobbyist in New York. He currently lobbies for Evolution Malta, which is among the gaming companies pursuing internet casino legislation and legalization in the fourth-largest state.

The elder Shorenstein co-founded Cozen O’Connor, a public strategy group that lists HBC-Saks Fifth Avenue as one of its clients, according to the New York Post. A year ago, the venerable department store entered the New York City casino competition, saying it wants to bring a gaming venue to its flagship location on Fifth Avenue.

Saks’ parent company, Hudson’s Bay Co., is hoping to turn the ninth through 11th floors of the Manhattan department store into a gaming venue inspired by the James Bond movie “Casino Royale” starring Daniel Craig. The Saks store is located next to St. Patrick’s Cathedral, making it something of an interesting spot for a casino.

Marissa Shorenstein’s NY Political Connections Run Deep

Marissa Shorenstein is well-connected in New York political circles and has had roles with three recent governors, all Democrats, including Hochul.

Prior to joining AT&T, Shorenstein ran Marissa Shorenstein LLC, where she offered strategic communications consulting services. Shorenstein also served as Director of Communications for Andrew M. Cuomo’s 2010 gubernatorial campaign and Press Secretary and Deputy Communications Director in Governor David A. Paterson’s administration,” according to the NYGC website. “She also served as a member of the National Press Advance staff for the 2000 Gore Presidential campaign. More recently, Shorenstein served as Director of Executive Transition for New York governor Kathy Hochul.”

Interestingly, Paterson now lobbies for Las Vegas Sands and is seen as the architect of that operator’s decision to pursue a casino hotel in Nassau County.

It’s believed Hochul appointed Shorenstein to the NYGC last June with little fanfare, reports the Post.

Shorenstein Appointment Could Stoke Controversy

The NYGC won’t be tasked with determining the three winners of downstate casino permits. Rather, those victors will be chosen by the independent Gaming Facility Location Board.

Additionally, the recent budget sent to Hochul didn’t include iGaming legislation. Still, the governor appointing Shorenstein to the NYGC is viewed by some as potentially controversial because she could be directly involved in issues for which her father lobbies. Plus, some New York policymakers are keen on keeping internet casino legislation alive because the state needs new revenue sources.

While NYGC Executive Director Lee Park told the Post Shorenstein is qualified to be an NYGC commissioner and allegations of nepotism are “sensational,” there are concerns about her appointment.

John Kaehny, executive director of government accountability group Reinvent Albany, told the media outlet that Hochul placing the younger Shorenstein on the NYGC board raises red flags and is “absurd.”