Ellen Zoe Golden
JLM PR, Inc.
(212) 431-5227
[email protected]
[email protected]


NEW YORK, N.Y. – OCTOBER 2, 2003 – Russell Simmons and Dr. Benjamin Chavis, who together with the Hip-Hop Summit Action Network, filed a lawsuit in July of this year charging the New York Temporary State Commission on Lobbying with violating their First Amendment rights, reconvened in federal court this morning to ask Judge Loretta A. Preska to enforce the suspension of the Lobbying Commission’s investigation into Russell Simmons and Dr. Chavis.

Today, Judge Loretta A. Preska issued an order suspending the Lobbying Commission’s investigation into Plaintiffs’ First Amendment activities, which were aimed at raising public awareness about the unfairness of the Rockefeller Drug Laws. The Judge found that the Lobbying Commission had unfairly tried to back out of a court-approved agreement to suspend the investigation. The suspension that Judge Preska ordered today will last until the Court can issue a full decision in this case.

The court stated that the Lobbying Commission could not withdraw from the court order to suspend its investigation simply because it deemed it a waste of time, as was stated by the Commission’s Executive Director David Grandeau, in the media.

“We are quite pleased by Judge Preska’s ruling,” commented Stephen Younger of Patterson, Belknap, Webb and Tyler, attorneys for Russell Simmons and Dr. Chavis. “We consider this to be an important victory, not only for my clients, but for all of those who exercise their fundamental right to speak out against laws with which they disagree.”

The court hearing was attended by lawyers from the NYCLU, who argued in favor of the plaintiff’s motion. “The Lobbying Commission’s investigation of the June 4 rally against the Rockefeller Drug Laws goes well beyond the commission’s legitimate authority and violates core values of free speech and association,” said Donna Lieberman, executive director of the NYCLU.

Mr. Simmons and Dr. Chavis organized a public rally at City Hall on June 4, 2003. The rally was attended by tens of thousands of young people who listened to speakers discuss the unfairness of the Rockefeller Drug Laws In response, the Lobbying Commission launched a broad investigation, demanding sworn testimony from my clients and contacting third parties who had helped organize the rally. Through Mr. Grandeau, the Lobbying Commission has engaged in a public smear campaign against Mr. Simmons and Dr. Chavis, leaking inaccurate information to the media and repeatedly suggesting that they did something wrong. They did nothing wrong.

Mr. Simmons and Dr. Chavis are not lobbyists. No one paid them to get involved in this public debate. Rather, they are speaking out because they feel it is important to do so as citizens of a free society. This
nation was founded upon the principle that all citizens must be free to voice their disagreements with the actions of our government. The Court’s decision today reaffirms this important right. Mr. Younger further stated, “We look forward to resolving this matter in Court as quickly as possible.”

Available for further information:
Stephen Younger
(212) 336-2685