When the name of Alphonse “Buddy” Fletcher unexpectedly surfaced last week on the list of candidates for comptroller, it caused a ripple, with one lawmaker telling me he “will be hard to say no to.”
He’s a Harvard-educated, black millionaire philanthropist with plenty of financial experience. Just the sort of outside financial expert Eliot Spitzer’s people were looking for.
But what about the political background of this man who could soon be the state’s top financial official?
A quick call over the city’s Board of Elections to verify Fletcher’s voter registration information revealed some interesting history.
According to the board’s spokesperson, Fletcher lived on Central Park West around 1992 and was a registered Republican at the time. In 1995, Fletcher moved to the Dakota, where he then registered as a member of the Independence Party.
Between 1992 and 2000, the BOE said, Fletcher voted only two times, in the federal elections in 1992 and 1996. After 2000, according to the spokesperson, the board downgraded his status to a “move” because of inactivity.
That sporadic history of voting and registering seems to indicate a certain indifference to politics. It also raises the interesting question of whether Fletcher ever lived outside of New York State or even registered to vote elsewhere, which might arguably run afoul of a requirement that statewide office holders live in New York for five years prior to taking office.
The spokesman for Fletcher, election lawyer extraordinaire Jerry Goldfeder, told me that his client does indeed live at the Dakota and is still registed to vote at that address.
As for his status as a continuous resident for the purposes of taking office, Goldfeder said, “Residency is where you live, where you put your head when you go to sleep, where you buy your groceries.”
But not necessarily where you vote.
UPDATE: An on-the-ball reader pointed me towards some disclosure forms that have just been posted. Fletcher’s form lists among his jobs a managing director director position at Cornwall Castle Farm, LLC in Connecticut. According to this phone directory, Fletcher (or someone who shares his name) has a residential address right down the street.
Which doesn’t prove anything except perhaps that at least some of the time, Fletcher buys his groceries in Connecticut.
– Azi Paybarah