Helen Rosenthal

Did She Travel on the Taxpayer’s Dime? Or the Hotel Lobby’s?

Since we began our investigation of the hotel lobby, its friends in government, and others that seek to penalize the sustainable, home sharing economy, it’s become obvious that at some point we would ask questions about New York City Council Member Helen Rosenthal.

She is an outspoken opponent of home sharing and an advocate of the hotel lobby’s interests. And, Helen Rosenthal has worked closely with groups funded by Peter Ward’s New York Hotel and Motel Trades Council, which faces mounting questions about unusual spending – and members’ approval of that spending.

During the week of October 24, 2016, Ms. Rosenthal traveled to Toronto at the behest of the “concerned citizens” group known as Fairbnb. The organization bills itself as “a coalition effort that brings together groups from the regulated hotel and B&B industry with property owners, property renters” and others to discuss “how and why municipalities should regulate short-term rentals.” Fairbnb and its coalition partners in the hotel lobby have waged a highly visible campaign against home sharing platforms in Toronto.

Her trip to Toronto raises questions:

  • Who paid for Helen Rosenthal’s trip to Toronto?
  • Whom did she meet with?
  • What New York City interest was served by her travel, especially given that she voted to give herself and her colleagues a 32 percent raise this year in exchange for becoming full-time employees?
  • And, why couldn’t that same interest be served by simply using the phone or videoconferencing?

On November 14, we submitted a Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) public records request for documents related to the Toronto trip of Council Member Helen Rosenthal, as well as her communications regarding home sharing. The NYC FOIL officer acknowledged receipt of our request and told us to expect relevant records within 40 business days. We will update our readers as new information is made available.

Helen Rosenthal


To read the entire public records request, click on the image above or HERE.

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Scott Peterson is executive director of Checks and Balances Project, a national watchdog blog that seeks to hold government officials, lobbyists and corporate management accountable to the public. Funding for C&BP comes from sustainable economy philanthropies and donors.