One Person’s ‘Special Interest’ Is Another’s ‘Stakeholder’

New York Times
Wednesday, March 9, 2011

There were once simpler times in Albany, when a special interest could be described as a special interest and — at least linguistically — that was the end of it.

The group, the Center for Justice and Democracy, which opposes the Medicaid committee’s proposal to limit medical malpractice claims, sent a letter to the state’s Commission on Public Integrity on Tuesday seeking an investigation.

Among the so-called stakeholders whose employers they said would directly benefit from the malpractice cap are several hospital officials as well as Jeffrey A. Sachs, a close friend of Mr. Cuomo’s whom the Center for Justice and Democracy and other groups have criticized for not fully disclosing his consulting clients, which include major New York hospitals.

“If there has been no such benefit, we would be happy to reconsider our position,” the group’s executive director, Joanne Doroshow, said. “If not, we will await the commission’s findings.”

“And by the way,” she added, “after you apply the facts to the law, that sound you’ll hear is the steel trap closing on you.”

For whatever merits the Center’s legal argument may hold, their letter to the ethics also raises a philosophical question, and one that could be considerably harder to arbitrate. After all, if a stakeholder does not actually have a stake, is he or she still a stakeholder? And, if not, what are they?

Perhaps, say, a special interest?

For a copy of the complete article, contact CJ&D.

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