Earlier today, GOP Councilman Eric Ulrich, a candidate against incumbent state Senator Joe Addabbo, was seeking to kick his Democratic opponent off the Working Families Party line in November. Although he was ultimately unsuccessful, observers in the room were rather interested in the presence of John Haggerty, who was convicted last year of stealing $750,000 of Mayor Bloomberg’s money during his 2009 reelection campaign.
“He was just hanging out in the back, speaking with the lawyer,” one of the sources said. “I think his role was that he was trying to produce the witnesses.”
However, Mr. Ulrich’s campaign, which Mr. Haggerty informally advises, denied he was there in any legal capacity whatsoever and said former Councilman Tom Ognibene was their official lawyer in the process.
“John Haggerty has no involvement in any legal proceedings,” Mr. Ulrich’s spokeswoman Jessica Proud said. “I can’t defend someone having a conversation with somebody, that that would in turn mean that there’s any involvement in the case is wildly unsubstantiated.”
Nevertheless, the Senate Democrats were more than willing to connect some dots and blasted Mr. Ulrich over the situation.
Said spokesman Mike Murphy, “It’s fitting that Ulrich sent a convicted felon to do his dirty work. Not only has Ulrich surrounded himself with someone who was convicted of theft – and violating the public’s trust—but now Ulrich and Haggerty are playing politics with our democracy.”
Democrats aren’t the only ones that have made an issue of Mr. Haggerty either. Mr. Ulrich’s Republican primary opponent Juan Reyes has previously issued a statement calling on the candidate to “explain his ongoing ties with this convicted felon and explain why he continues to allow him a leadership role in his campaign for State Senate.”
Despite the criticism, Mr. Ulrich isn’t likely to shun Mr. Haggerty anytime soon. Asked about him by the New York Post, he stressed that Mr. Haggerty is his friend and only loosely aligned with the campaign.
“He doesn’t accept checks. He doesn’t bundle them. He doesn’t solicit money,” he said. “John’s been a friend of mine for a number of years. He’s paying the price of the crimes he’s been convicted of. I’m not going to throw him under the bus.”