Kaye-WFP Report Passes on Look-Back, Suggests More Transparency

The Working Families Party’s report on its own dealings, written by former Chief Judge Judith Kaye, is out, and recommends a number of new transparency measures going forward.

The report offers neither a condemnation nor exoneration of the WFP’s past. Most notably, Kaye declined to take a retrospective look at the labor-backed party’s actions in the 2009 city campaigns with subsidiary Data Field Services. The report deferred to an ongoing investigation by the U.S. attorney, leaving questions of impropriety unsettled.

“We recognized the need to avoid any interference, or even the appearance that our work might interfere,” the report says. “As a result, this Report makes no findings relating to the past conduct of WFP, DFS or their personnel. Instead, this Report formulates recommendations that WFP and DFS might consider on a going forward basis.”

The report and the federal investigation came after the WFP took heat for a structure it set up in last fall’s campaigns in which some candidates the party endorsed paid a company called Data Field Services for campaign services such as organizing. The structure attracted allegations that Data Field Services was under-charging, effectively giving off-the-books donations to campaigns (WFP has denied this, and a lawsuit over the campaign of Councilwoman Debi Rose on this issue yielded a settlement in which Ms. Rose’s campaign had to pay an extra $8,525 to Data Field Services–not a giant sum).

Ms. Kaye’s report doesn’t comment on this, but in recommending changes to the relationship between WFP and Data Field Services, it suggests that the general concept of the relationship, assuming Data Field Services charges market rates, is a proper one.

The recommendations include suggestions that DFS not work for campaigns until it has a formal contract, that it settle on hourly rates for services provided to campaigns and receive an outside opinion to advise that the rates are at market value.

The WFP endorsed the recommendations.

The full report is here.