Raising Money Off ‘Slushgate’

A number of readers have forwarded me this harshly worded email from the campaign manager of a City Council candidate who is seeking contributions under the headline, “Help Skaller Stop ‘Slushgate 2.’”

The candidate is Josh Skaller of Brooklyn. He’s running for the seat being vacated by Bill de Blasio which was, before that, held by Steve DiBrienza, who is running for that seat again. The email was sent by Skaller’s campaign manager, Chris Owens, a progressive Democratic activist in Brooklyn who ran unsuccessfully for his father’s congressional seat in 2006.

The “Slushgate” scandal Skaller and Owens are referring to is based on a New York Post report that the City Council is currently financing a nonprofit group created by DiBrienza after he was forced out by term limits. DiBrienza said he created the organization in order to help fund the groups he supported as a councilman, leading the paper to wonder why, if those groups are so worthy, the Council isn’t funding them directly, rather than through DiBrienza’s organization.

Christine Quinn also comes under criticism for allowing this kind of funding to occur.

Here’s the full email:

———- Forwarded message ———- From: “Chris Owens, Campaign Manager”


Date: Mon, 09 Mar 2009 19:08:04 -0400 (EDT)

Subject: Help Skaller Stop “Slushgate 2”


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Dear ,

With three months to go before we start collecting signatures to get on the ballot, I am proud to report some of Josh Skaller’s great successes, yet I am also compelled to share some disturbing news.

Because of you, Josh Skaller’s campaign has received contributions more individual donors than any other City Council candidate in Brooklyn. That’s 479 donors — or real grassroots support.

Thank you!

I am also happy to report that Josh has been talking with people all over the 39th District, hearing their hopes and fears and sharing his ideas for helping our neighborhoods and our City.

Cutting through the slick talk of politicians to discuss our employment challenges, our development and housing issues, and the improvement of our schools has been gratifying and energizing for Josh. Josh is a Democrat, and he is convinced now more than ever that reforming our political system and taking an independent approach to solving problems is essential for New York’s future.

Unfortunately, one of Josh Skaller’s opponents has graphically illustrated the need for such change.

“Call it a golden parachute – courtesy of City Council Speaker Christine Quinn. How else to describe the nearly $1.2 million in member-item cash poured by the council into a nonprofit founded by former Councilman Stephen DiBrienza – beginning the moment he left office?

… DiBrienza has drawn a steady salary and benefits from the council-funded non-profit … since 2002, when term limits forced him from his seat. His wife and several former council staffers have also drawn pay from the outfit, which shares a storefront office — formerly the councilman’s district headquarters — with his law practice, real-estate office and lobbying business.”

— New York Post, “Quinn’s Cash Dispenser”, March 9th 2009

As a reform Democrat, Josh is committed to ending these type of sweetheart — or slush fund — deals that have stained our municipal government for too long. That’s why Josh will be filing Freedom of Information Law requests with the City Council and relevant City agencies to make sure that there is an investigation into this matter — and any others like it.

To do this reform work while campaigning, we need your help one more time. Josh is only $25,000 away from raising the maximum amount of funds he will be allowed to spend in this campaign.

If you would make one more contribution more before midnight this Wednesday, March 11, we will be almost finished with the fundraising portion of our campaign work. And if you could ask your friends to do the same, we will get there even faster. To make an on-line contribution right now, please click here.

Or go to our website to download our contribution form and send a check.

And let me also say that our volunteers been outstanding. Take a moment to view Josh Skaller’s discussion our volunteers. And, if you have not yet volunteered with our campaign, please consider doing so!

(Please circulate this message to all your friends.)

Please remember our contribution deadline this Wednesday, March 11– and thank you for everything you do!


Chris Owens

Campaign Manager

Josh Skaller for City Council

Raising Money Off ‘Slushgate’