Democrats

Williams To Return Contributions ‘Accepted in Error’

A campaign finance report made public Thursday on behalf of Democratic lieutenant governor candidate Jumaane Williams included three donations that exceeded the $5,000 limit for corporate contributions.

Aside from surpassing that limit, $35,000 worth of donations may have originated from same source, which is also not allowed under state elections law. If he is forced to return the funds, Williams will deplete his campaign’s bank account and cripple his spending capability.

Responding to questions via email about whether these contributions would be returned if deemed to be accepted incorrectly, the campaign spokesman, William Gerlich, said:

“In the past filing period, our campaign received contributions which we now realize were accepted in error. On recognizing this, we will be returning these donations.”

He did not specify which contributions in particular will be returned.

The promised refunds come as the campaign of Williams’ opponent, LG Kathy Hochul, threw down the gauntlet this week, issuing four days worth of queries about the whereabouts of his disclosure report.

A submission mix-up on the Williams campaign end, attributed to technical difficulties, initially stalled the report’s release for three days. But once it was made public, red flags were immediately raised.

In a statement Thursday evening, the Hochul campaign called on the State Board of Elections to investigate Williams’ finances, claiming his disclosure report “shows thousands of illegal corporate donations in excess of state limits.”

Hochul’s campaign says Williams should comply with BOE law and return the $35,000.

“New Yorkers deserve better than the disappointing and troubling actions from the Williams’ campaign. We demand he refund the $35,000 immediately in accordance with the law.”

The campaign issued a follow up plea just before 5 p.m. today:

DAY 4, HOCHUL CAMPAIGN JOINS NY VOTERS IN CALLING FOR COUNCILMAN WILLIAMS TO RETURN ILLEGAL CORPORATE CONTRIBUTIONS

On April 12, 2018, Councilman Williams illegally accepted $50,000+ from multiple corporations all leading back to one person who receives multiple city contracts in his district. Apparently the Councilman does not feel the rules apply to him.

Not only did his campaign file 3 days late, they also blatantly ignored campaign finance laws that attempt to limit corporate influence because clearly that’s not a priority for him. Councilman Williams, let voters know when you’ve finally refunded the $35,000 in accordance with the law. New Yorkers deserve better from their leaders.”

The Williams campaign emailed several minutes prior to the release, stating in the quote at the beginning of this blog post their intention to refund contributions.

Hochul reported raising $1.2 million over the past six months, and has $1.24 total cash on hand.

Over 70 percent of her donations hail from individual donors, according to the LG’s campaign, and over 60 percent of those individual donors wrote checks for $500 or less.

Gibson Takes Teachout Campaign To Task For Misspelling

New York City Councilwoman Vanessa Gibson in an “open letter” on Friday took the campaign of Democratic attorney general candidate Zephyr Teachout to task for misspelling the first name of primary rival and New York City Public Advocate Letitia James in press releases.

Gibson in the letter alleged the errors were due, in part, to a pattern of disrespect toward people of color when they run for office.

“As an African American Member of the New York City Council, I find it offensive, and insulting, that given Letitia James’ decades-long career in public office, including being the first and only African American woman ever to be elected to New York City-wide office, you continue to misspell her name in your press releases,” Gibson wrote in the letter.

“This is not an uncommon pattern by politicians to dismiss qualified and experienced candidates from communities of color, particularly women of color, by denying both their past public achievements and their identity.”

Teachout spokeswoman Cristina Gonzalez in a statement took responsibility for the error.

“This would just be my own comment, as I was the one who made the error,” she said. “I do agree with CM Gibson that the misspelling of the names of people of color is something that happens with great frequency, and can signal a level of dismissiveness. However, sometimes you’re just a tired press secretary that didn’t catch a typo. As someone whose name is frequently misspelled, I am generally diligent in not doing the same to others. I will be sure to be more judicious in the future, and not commit the same error.”

Teachout and James are competing for the Democratic nomination alongside Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney and Leecia Eve.

NY-24: Gillibrand Endorses Balter

U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand on Friday endorses Democratic congressional candidate Dana Balter in the 24th congressional district in central New York.

Balter is running for the seat held by two-term Rep. John Katko in what has been historically a battleground seat for the last several election cycles.

“I support Dana Balter for Congress because central and western New York need a representative who will show up, listen, and stand up for health care, women’s rights, and working families,” Gillibrand said in a statement.

“They need a representative who will provide a check on Donald Trump and his administration. Dana has shown her dedication by earning support across the district, and I’m proud to endorse her.” Balter, who won her June primary by 25 points, will take on Congressman John Katko in November. “I’m proud to have the support of Senator Gillibrand,” Balter said. “Her work on behalf of central and western New York – and all the people of our state – is a model for the kind of representative I want to be. Congressman Katko has voted with Donald Trump 90% of time time – I want to join people like Senator Gillibrand in Congress to stand up for the people we are elected to serve, not the Washington insiders.”

Balter defeated Juanita Perez Williams in a Democratic primary last month.

Gillibrand is running for re-election this year, facing Republican Chele Farley.

Eve Agrees To AG Debate

From the Morning Memo:

Democratic attorney general candidate Leecia Eve Thursday agreed to participate in televised debates with her fellow candidates in the primary race.

Eve’s backing of debates comes after Zephyr Teachout also called for a series of televised debates held around the state.

Eve and Teachout, along with Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney and New York City Public Advocate Letitia James are vying for the nomination for attorney general in a four-way race.

“Leecia Eve’s experience in New York courtrooms may be unmatched, but that shouldn’t dissuade the other candidates from joining her for a series of broadcast debates,” said Eve campaign spokeswoman Maggie McKeon. “At a time when the values we cherish as New Yorkers are under assault by Donald Trump and Republicans in Congress, voters deserve to know where candidates stand. Leecia looks forward to debating Zephyr Teachout and any other candidates willing to debate the important issues facing New York State.”

Teachout hailed the statement, writing on Twitter that “voters deserve broadcast debates, and soon, to learn about the candidates for such a critical office.”

“Thanks Leecia, and thanks for being clear that you are ready to go on camera everywhere in the state to talk priorities and differences,” she wrote.

The AG’s office became an open race this May after the resignation of Attorney General Eric Schneiderman amid domestic violence allegations.

Barbara Underwood, appointed attorney general by the Legislature, is not running for a full term.

Williams Campaign Assessing Contributions After 3 Donations Appear Over Limit

A trio of donations to the lieutenant governor campaign of Democrat Jumaane Williams made public Thursday show they are above the $5,000 limit for corporate contributions.

Williams’s campaign reported receiving donations of $20,000 from Glenwood Mason Supply, Inc., $15,000 from Glenwood Masonry Products and $15,000 from Ferguson Hauling Corp.

Both masonry companies also appear to be related.

Willaims’s campaign overall reported $183,469 in contributions and spent $137,967. It ended the current reporting period with $45,502 in cash on hand.

Should Williams have to return the money, that would leave his campaign with about $10,000.

For now, the campaign says it is reviewing the contributions.

“We’re in the process of looking into the contributions in question and if any were accepted in error we’ll certainely rectify any mistakes that were made,” the campaign said in a statement.

Williams is challenging Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul in a Democratic primary.

New York has notoriously high donor limits for personal contributions and, through a web of limited liability companies, a single donor can give an unlimited amount of money.

Make The Road Action Endorses Grechen Shirley

The progressive advocacy organization Make the Road Action on Thursday endorsed Democratic congressional candidate Liuba Grechen Shirley in her bid to unseat Republican Rep. Peter King on Long Island.

“Well before Liuba was even thinking about running for office, she was standing with members of our community to hold Peter King accountable and demand that he listen to us,” said Nicole Nunez, one of the group’s members and a registered voter in the 2nd congressional district.

“Now that he has continued to fail to take us into account and stand up to the racist Trump agenda, there’s no better person to replace him. After recently becoming a citizen, I’ll be proud in November to cast my first vote for Congress for Liuba Grechen Shirley, who I know is going to stand up for common-sense immigration reform that includes a path to citizenship, health care for all, and economic opportunity for everyone in our district.”

Grechen Shirley successfully beat an establishment-backed candidate in the June congressional primary, DuWayne Gregory, to win the party’s nomination.

“I’m honored to receive Make the Road Action’s endorsement. MRA is a critical voice here on Long Island and across the state for the rights of marginalized people,” she said.

“Their advocacy is integral in protecting immigrants and working-class communities of color. I’ve been proud to stand with MRA at rallies and events as a community member, and I look forward to working with them as a member of Congress to fight for all residents of New York’s Second Congressional District.”

Gladd Hires Rhodes Campaign Chief For Senate Bid

Democratic state Senate candidate Aaron Gladd has hired the former campaign manager of congressional candidate Gareth Rhodes, a source with knowledge of the personnel move said.

Gladd is turning to Jesse Meyer in the race to succeed Republican Sen. Kathy Marchione in the 43rd Senate district, which encompasses parts of the Albany suburbs.

Meyer worked previously as a field organizer for Rep. Sean Patrick Maleony and was a regional field director for Bernie Sanders’s presidential campaign in Nevada.

Gladd, meanwhile, reported raising $129,000 in his July filing and has $126,000 in cash on hand. Republican Daphne Jordan reported $35,249 in cash on hand.

Assemblyman Files Ethics Complaint Against County Dem Chair

From the Morning Memo:

Western New York Assemblyman Erik Bohen has filed a complaint against the Erie County Democratic Elections Commissioner Jeremy Zellner with the county Board of Ethics.

In a letter to the board chairman, Bohen accused Zellner of using information he acquired in his official capacity to further his personal interest as the Erie County Democratic Committee chairman.

Specifically, the assemblyman accuses Zellner of filing a Freedom of Information Law request for Democratic Committee petitions, of which he was in a position to be aware in this role as party chairman, in order to damage Bohen’s image.

Over the weekend, Zellner called the assemblyman, a Democrat who won an April special election by running on the Republican and Conservative lines, a hypocrite on social media for choosing not to seek the party’s endorsement in the fall election, and then filing the necessary paperwork to become a Democratic committee member.

He also posted the petition with Bohen’s name and address on it.

The assemblyman said he did not carry petitions or file them, and also did not authorize anyone to do so on hie behalf. He said Zellner abused his position with the BOE to further his political agenda. 

The party is endorsing current Erie County Legislator Pat Burke, who was the Democrats’ candidate in the spring special election, and lost to Boehn.

“The commissioner of the Board of Elections has extraordinary privileges to view filed documents that challenge the Democratic Party, which he also controls, and I believe that Mr. Zellner violated the intent of Erie County ethics law by advancing his own interests,” Boehn said.

“Mr. Zellner FOILed his own Democratic petitions, he only disseminated the petition with my name and address on it to the public, and he used the petition to distort the truth. I have been a Democratic Committee member for 13 years. However, I had no intentions of running for that position again this year.”

Zellner has continually defended his dual roles against those claiming they pose a conflict of interest, pointing out that Republicans and Democrats unanimously supported his appointment to serve on the Board of Elections. He said Bohen’s complaint is meritless on its face.

“The social media post referred to by Mr. Bohen was made from my political account, and raised what I strongly believe are valid questions with respect to petitions filed on his behalf,” Zellner said.

“Mr. Bohen’s action is an attempt to distract attention from those questions and the answers that may result. At a time when faith in our democracy and electoral process is already being undermined for partisan purposes, Mr. Bohen’s attempt to do the same is particularly disturbing and utterly disingenuous.”

Zellner also strongly questioned Bohen’s claim that he knew nothing about the petitions he says were filed on his behalf to become a committee member. He pointed out the petition also included Bohen’s aunt Barbara Hart, with whom he has run in the past, and the party’s zone chair, Meg Corbett, who is the assemblyman’s cousin.

Williams Endorses Salazar In Bid To Oust Dilan

Jumaane Williams, the Democrat running a primary bid against Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul, has endorsed the campaign of Julia Salazar against Sen. Marty Dilan in Brooklyn.

“Jumaane Williams has worked relentlessly to advocate for tenants and to bring the voices of our communities with him to City Hall,” Salazar said. “His bold leadership is exactly what we need in Albany, and I’m thrilled to endorse Jumaane to be our next Lieutenant Governor.”

The endorsement is interesting, given Dilan, though a longtime incumbent, has never bolted from the mainline Democratic conference in the state Senate. Several former members of the now-defunct Independent Democratic Conference have gained primary challengers, who have been buoyed by the support of incumbent officeholders in recent weeks.

“Julia is a strong progressive advocate who understands that people come before politics, and that incumbency cannot be the sole driver of an elected official,” Williams said. “I am proud to endorse her grassroots campaign for the New York State Senate, and look forward to working with her to create a more fair and equitable state.”

Miner Raises From SAM Supporters

Former Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner’s independent bid for governor is being seeded in part by her old campaign account and supporters of the Serve America Movement, her campaign finance report made available on Monday shows.

Miner has $184,546 in total contributions and has spent $246,782. She also transferred $214,000 from her previous mayoral campaign account, the filing shows. She first launched her bid for governor in this spring and the filing reflects 24 days of fundraising.

Miner is running on the Serve America Movement ballot line, and her campaign contributions reflect some of the group’s organizers, including founder Scott Muller, who gave $44,000. She also received $44,000 from Charles Wall, an executive with Phillip Morris, who has supported the organization. And she received $44,000 from Michael Willner, the SAM chief executive officer.

Miner is a former two-term mayor of Syracuse and an ex-chairwoman of the state Democratic Committee.

Miner has ruled out receiving donations from limited liability companies and won’t accept donations from people or entities with business or seeking to business with the state.