UPDATED, 1:58 p.m., August 8: Airbnb hired a bevy of influential lobbyists in New York during the first half of the year as part of a six-figure lobbying campaign.
Overall, the short-term rental startup spent $404,200 on lobbying, a total that included directly paying powerful Albany lobbyists $345,593, according to the New York Daily News.
Airbnb was among the biggest spenders in Albany, and its lobbyists included the firm Bolton St. Johns, whose partner Giorgio DeRosa is the father of Melissa DeRosa, Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s chief of staff.
The company is quite controversial in New York City, facing opposition from Democrats and the hotel industry who argue that Airbnb is lowering the amount of affordable housing units in the city and disobeying laws that ban short-term rentals. The Hotel and Motel Trades Council, a bitter rival, spent $127,855 on lobbying during the first six months of 2017. The two have accused one another of illegal lobbying.
Josh Meltzer, policy head for Airbnb, said the company was trying to defend the people who use their website as a way to earn extra income, but Manhattan Assemblymember and Airbnb critic Linda Rosenthal had a less charitable assessment.
“It shows that they are worried,” she told the Daily News, “and it also shows that they have limitless amounts of money to throw around.” [NYDN] – Eddie Small
Correction: A previous version of this story misidentified the Assemblymember from Manhattan. It is Linda Rosenthal.