Dov Hikind, the longtime Orthodox Jewish Brooklyn lawmaker, owns an advertising firm, DYS Production, that receives checks from a number of businesses, though the assemblyman has repeatedly failed to disclose income from the firm. In his July filing, Mr. Hikind listed no outside income in 2012 beyond his legislative pay of $99,000. Many of these same businesses – including Maimonides Hospital – also lobby Hikind, and Hikind has backed millions in state grants and other assistance for these clients.
Crain's New York reports:
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[New York State] Assemblyman Dov Hikind took a minute out of his weekly radio show recently to promote a health-screening event his office was holding with Maimonides Medical Center, a hospital in his Borough Park district.
"I will be there, with God's help, to go through these tests myself," Mr. Hikind said, his voice booming through to a heavily Orthodox Jewish audience, which regularly tunes in to his Saturday-night politics program.
The longtime Brooklyn lawmaker was not merely doing a public service. An advertising firm he owns is being paid $65,000 by the hospital for promotion on The Dov Hikind Show this year, a hospital executive confirmed. Maimonides also lobbies the state government and Mr. Hikind.
In fact, Mr. Hikind's company, DYS Production, receives checks from a number of businesses, though the assemblyman has repeatedly failed to disclose income from the firm, as required. In his July filing, Mr. Hikind listed no outside income in 2012 beyond his legislative pay of $99,000.
After an inquiry from Crain's, Mr. Hikind amended his financial disclosures dating back to 2006 to reflect income from the company. Only for last year did Mr. Hikind have to list the approximate amount: between $5,000 and $20,000. Public records don't show where the rest of DYS Production's revenue went.
Advertisers on his AM radio show range from home-health-care company At Home Solutions to travel agency Do All Travel, according to recordings reviewed by Crain's. "We sell enough advertising that this show has become extremely successful financially," Mr. Hikind told City & State in 2008. "That makes my wife a little happier about it."
But the state's Legislative Ethics Commission would not say whether he had ever asked if payments from advertisers that lobby him could represent a conflict of interest. His office declined requests for comment.…
Dick Dadey, executive director of good-government group Citizens Union, said it makes sense for Maimonides to buy time on Mr. Hikind's program. The problem is that the assemblyman repeatedly failed to make his outside income public.
"The fact that he didn't disclose it raises the question of why he didn't," Mr. Dadey said. "If there's no conflict, why not disclose it?"…
Other aspects of Mr. Hikind's radio show also overlap with his public office. Political candidates have often paid Mr. Hikind's company, appeared on his show and been endorsed by him. The show is co-hosted and run by Dov Cohen, an $80,000-a-year full-time aide in Mr. Hikind's Assembly office, and has shared space with Mr. Hikind's longtime political club, the United New York Democrats. The club often paid the rent on the space between 2006 and 2009, but as its campaign account was shut down in recent years, payments were made from Mr. Hikind's own campaign fund to the building's landlord. Campaign funds cannot be used for a candidate's business expenses.
Borough Park insiders said Mr. Hikind talks privately about the money generated by the show, but some assumed it went to charity. "It's really something I have no idea about," said Zev Brenner, a popular radio host who sells airtime on WMCA 570 for The Dov Hikind Show.…
[Brenner himself allegedly regularly has “guests” on his show who have paid him in money, goods or trade to appear on it. But Brenner fails to disclose these payments on air, as he must legally do according to the FCC, which told me that any broadcaster having such “guests” on air must do so at minimum at the beginning and end of each segment in which the guest who paid to be on the show appears. – FailedMessiah.com]
DYS is named after Mr. Hikind's three adult children: his daughter, Deena, and sons, Yoni and Shmuel. The lawmaker was in the news recently for landing part-time jobs for his sons in 2011 with fellow Brooklyn Assembly members, with salaries just high enough to entitle them to government health care.
Two years ago, Mr. Hikind's son-in-law, Rabin Rahmani, a doctor in his early 30s and just off a residency and fellowship at Maimonides, raised eyebrows among colleagues by landing the post of director of medical education and research at the hospital's gastroenterology division. Dr. Rahmani, Deena's husband, has promoted the hospital as a guest on Mr. Hikind's radio show. A hospital spokeswoman said Mr. Rahmani was exceptionally qualified for his post.
Maimonides buys four 30-second spots per hourlong program and gets "dozens" of appearances on the show annually for its physicians, according to Barry Ensminger, the hospital's vice president of external affairs.
"The reason we advertise on the radio show is that it's very widely listened to in the Orthodox community," he said. The hospital also buys space in Orthodox Jewish publications such as Hamodia. He added that Mr. Hikind's show accounts for a small part of the hospital's advertising budget.
"It's something we've been doing for years and years," Mr. Ensminger said. He said the hospital's lobbying of Mr. Hikind is separate from its marketing activities.
Records show that in 2011 the hospital spent $470,000 on lobbying, including of Mr. Hikind and the Legislature. Its Albany efforts have been fruitful: In 2011, $13 million of its $16.7 million in government grants came from the state Department of Health.
A Maimonides spokeswoman said the hospital simply informs Brooklyn lawmakers of new services and funding needs, and that its lobbying does not single out Mr. Hikind.
The assemblyman has supported zoning changes that have helped Maimonides expand over the past decade. Some locals charge that potential dissent is headed off by hospital officials' money, including to Mr. Hikind's campaign fund.
"Maimonides keeps all the elected officials happy with campaign donations from [hospital President] Pam Brier and her husband [Peter Aschkenasy]," said William Handler of the Boro-Park West Community Association. "They place advertisements in all the local newspapers. Community groups get donations. Everybody who could politically oppose the hospital gets a donation."
Meanwhile, Mr. Hikind's radio program is thriving. With the 2013 races for mayor and other city offices heating up, candidates will angle for appearances and perhaps sponsor shows to court the Orthodox vote and Mr. Hikind himself. The lawmaker announced on a recent show that in August the program will move to 620 on the AM dial and air Wednesday evenings instead of Saturday nights.…