After a number of stories last year (here, here, and here) pointing to a common scam perpetrated by candidates running against token opposition, the city’s Campaign Finance Board finally issued a report this week on the 2005 elections addressing a little problem with the way they give away money.
Under current rules, candidates may file a Statement of Need with the CFB, allowing them to collect matching funds for their campaigns even if their challengers haven’t raised a single dollar. It’s a way of ducking a measure built in to the system to limit money given to candidates who don’t need it.
Take the example of Bronx Councilman Larry Seabrook last year.
Seabrook essentially pumped up his opponent’s credentials, saying that the challenger “has the backing of Mayor Bloomberg’s high-spending mayoral re-election campaign.”
After sending that letter, which allowed him to collect more than $70,000, Seabrook promptly endorsed Bloomberg.
— Azi Paybarah
CORRECTION: The original post said that Seabrook used most of the matching funds he receieved to pay his own brother for working on the campaign.
What this filing actually shows is that Seabrook’s brother is owed (Schedule N) tens of thousands of dollars, but was paid only a fraction of that (Schedule F). Furthermore, as a lawyer for Seabrook called to point out, his brother was paid with private contributions, not the matching funds.
Additional fundraisers will be held to pay him the rest, the lawyer said.