The law firm representing the Assembly in its dealings with the Moreland Commission has broad parameters that include assisting in writing potential legislation, according to a copy of the contract.

The contract, obtained by Capital Tonight through a Freedom of Information Law request, shows the firm Kasowitz, Benson, Torres, Friedman LLP is billing the state $285 per hour, which documents say is the standard for the Albany market. The contract is capped at $50,000.

But the contract also provides a window in what duties the firm is expected to perform when it comes to representing the Assembly in any Moreland-related engagement. In this instance: taking an advisory role in writing ethics-related legislation.

The contract says the firm will act “as special counsel advising the Assembly in formulating or amending legislation and policies related to campaign finance, the electoral process, lobbying, conflict of interest, ethics of public officers, intended to restore the public trust and increase accountability in state government.”

At the same time, the contract’s justification adds that the law firm is also expected to provide legal advice when it comes to “the separation of powers and legislative privileges and immunities provide counsel if litigation arises related to these issues.”

Gov. Andrew Cuomo created the Moreland Commission, stocked with district attorneys and legal scholars, after the Legislature failed to approve any ethics-related measures in the wake of several corruption scandals to hit Albany.

Cuomo and Moreland’s commissioners have insisted the panel has the power to investigate both the Senate and the Assembly, pointing to the added jurisdictional authority it was given by Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.

Lawyers for both the Senate and Assembly in a joint letter rejected a request from the Moreland Commission for more information on legislators’ outside income and their legal clients.

The commission subsequently issued subpoenas to law firms that employ lawmakers and to legislative conference campaign committees.

In a court filing last month, lawyers for the Senate Republican Campaign Committee urged a state judge to quash the subpoena, arguing the Moreland Commission doesn’t possess the power to subpoena the campaign committee.

Cuomo in recent weeks has been quietly calling state lawmakers about a potential ethics package.

FR2013-573 Contract C111945 by Nick Reisman