Debra Feinberg, the chief-of-staff to embattled Assembly member Vito Lopez, was paid nearly $12,000 this summer to do field organizing for Kathleen Rice’s campaign for the Democratic nomination for attorney general, according to a review of campaign finance filings.
Rice was endorsed by Lopez and the Brooklyn Democratic Party–which Lopez heads–in May, and Feinberg went to work for the Rice campaign in July, according to Rice’s spokesman, Eric Phillips. He added that the rate was comparable to the salary that other field organzers received.
“Like every campaign, we employed a number of professional field organizers to help us communicate our message. For a few months, she served the campaign in that role,” Phillips said.
Lopez is currenty facing a slew of investigations from city and federal officials for irregularities with the sprawling non-profit empire that he oversees, the Ridgewood-Bushwick Senior Center, and has faced a month of relentlessly bad press, including allegations that he uses the staff of the senior center to provide the muscle of his political campaigns, that he lives outside of his district, and that he fired a janitor at RBSC for backing a political rival of his.
Lopez’s political power comes from his ability to motivate people who depend on his non-profit to get to the polls to vote. The Rice campaign said that Feinberg was in charge of field organizing all over Brooklyn, and not just in Lopez’s base in North Brooklyn. Rice lost the primary by two points to state Senator Eric Schneiderman.
All of the Democratic AG candidates sought Lopez’s endorsement, and he told Brooklyn Democrats that they should back Rice because she was Andrew Cuomo’s personal pick, according to sources who were present at the endorsement meeting. Lopez became an enthusiastic backer of Rice however, taking her around the borough and introducing her at events.
Feinberg became Lopez’s chief of staff after his former chief-of-staff, Steve Levin, won a seat on the City Council. Feinberg managed his campaign.
Feinberg has been in the news a bit herself recently after she was named to the board of Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation by Levin even though she lives in Manhattan and Lopez’s district does not include the park and when her boyfriend, Jeffrey Fenster, the executive director of the state’s Workers Compensation Board, was spotted at a raucous meeting of the Brooklyn Democrat Party protecting Lopez from photographers and protesters.