Last month the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee and its preferred consultant, The Parkside Group, took issue with a posting that candidates were leaned on to use Parkside in advance of the November elections. Senate Democrats lost just enough seats to ensure their minority status for at least the next two years. And while ultimately Democrats blame the “Republican Wave” for their losses, some losing candidates stepped forward to question the DSCC’s alliance with Parkside.

Now comes an email chain we’ve obtained that could help illustrate the point.  As background, the emails are between a staffer from the campaign of Democratic State Senate Candidate Brian Howard, who was running against Republican Kathy Marchione in the 43rd District, and a representative from the DSCC. The Howard Campaign, which was at a significant fundraising disadvantage, wanted to do a robocall to targeted voters. Howard was getting zero financial help from the DSCC. But the campaign was seeking information about voters in the district from Vote Builder, a database the DSCC controls that contains voter information from the New York State Board of Elections. That information about targeted voters can be customized, and it’s a valuable resource to all campaigns. In this case, the Howard camp needed help exporting the file to the company it had hired to do the robocall. A representative from the DSCC did not like that a company other than Parkside was hired, and said as much in this email chain from October.  It’s between Joe Billick, representing the DSCC and a campaign staffer who has asked not to be identified. That staffer writes the first email.

>> On Tue, Oct 7, 2014 at 3:18 PM,
>> wrote:
>
>> I created a large list for Robocalls. I don’t think I have access to
>> export this list.
>>
>> If I do just let me know how. If not can you export it and send it to me
>> in an email?
>>
>> Thank you. It’s in the file called Phones and it’s called Robocall.
>>
>> Thank you,
>>
_______________________________________________________________________________________
>> ——————————
>> From: joe.billick
>> Date: Tue, 7 Oct 2014 15:22:28 -0400
>> Subject: Re:
>> To:
>>
>>
>> Hello —–,
>>
>> Did you share the folder with Josh Cherwin?
>>
>> Joe
>> (518) DEM-6157
_______________________________________________________________________________________
>>
>> On Tue, Oct 7, 2014 at 3:26 PM, >
>> wrote:
>>
>> I just shared with you and Josh Cherwin.
_______________________________________________________________________________________
>> ——————————
>> From: Joe.Billick
>> Date: Tue, 7 Oct 2014 15:26:55 -0400
>> Subject: Re:
>> To:
>>
>> Hi —–,
>>
>> Also, who are you partnering with on these robocalls?
>>
>> Joe
>> (518) DEM-6157
_______________________________________________________________________________________
>> On Tue, Oct 7, 2014 at 3:32 PM,
>> wrote:
>>
>> These are robocalls just mentioning Brian. Joanne Yepsen, Saratoga Springs
>> Mayor will do them
>> I’m concerned that there is still very low name recognition for Brian as
>> we go into the final weeks and join the other campaigns for joint
>> canvassing and phone banking.
>> We are using American Strategies in Washington DC.
>>
>>
_______________________________________________________________________________________
>> ——————————
>> From: joe.billick
>> Date: Tue, 7 Oct 2014 16:26:51 -0400
>>
>> Subject: Re:
>> To:
>>
>> Hi —–
>>

  1. >> Thanks for the further detail. It is preferred that you use the DSCC’s
  2. >> main consultant, the Parkside Group, for these types of services. Please
  3. >> let me know if I should put you in touch.
  4. >>
>> Joe
>> (518) DEM-6157
_______________________________________________________________________________________
 On Tue, Oct 7, 2014 at 4:29 PM, >
> wrote:
>
>> Oh wow Joe. I did not know that. Nobody told me that. The Rensslaer County
>> democrats are helping us pay for these and they wanted us to use a company
>> that they have used here before.
>> We are very low on funds. I also already set it up with this company
>> earlier this week.

In the end, the DSCC acquiesced and helped them to export the file. The key phrase here however, is “It is preferred that you use the DSCC’s main consultant, the Parkside Group, for these types of services.” Last month, Mike Murphy a spokesman for the Senate Democrats said allegations that the DSCC leaned on candidates to use Parkside was “pure fiction.” In response to this email chain, he said,

“As public records clearly show, DSCC and DSCC-supported candidates used a wide variety of vendors. In this case, a volunteer who does not speak for DSCC made a recommendation, the campaign chose a different vendor and the DSCC completely fulfilled the campaign’s request regardless. 

It is worth noting that Billick works for the New York State Senate Democrats. Often during campaigns people with government jobs volunteer their time to do campaign work, since technically they are not allowed to do that work in their capacity as government employees. Josh Cherwin, mentioned in the emails, is The Executive Director of the New York Senate Democrats.