Councilman Fidler has told Crain’s Insider that he hopes to return about $10,000 of the $88,550 in taxpayer funds he received from the Campaign Finance Board for last November’s elections.
Fidler drew the ire of city press ever since he received the $88,550 – making his total war chest over $170,000 – in matching funds, with the Daily News going as far as demanding he return every penny of taxpayer dollars. His opponent, Gene Berardelli, only raised about $4,000 and did not qualify for matching funds.
Sheepshead Bites has been in constant communication with Fidler’s staff, and though he’s waiting for a city audit to announce the precise amount, the councilman told us from the beginning that he expected to return “five figures.”
The news comes as the Campaign Finance Board launches hearings to review the efficacy of funds, particularly, according to Crain’s, whether it helped grassroots candidates compete. As the race for the 46th illustrated, the CFB’s matching funds stifled challengers with small fundraising apparatuses, and instead funneled public money to incumbents facing underfunded and overwhelmed opponents.
From Crain’s Insider:
Fidler had spent money and signed contracts in expectation of a primary before his Democratic opponents were kicked off the ballot, so he used matching funds toward those bills. Fidler says he took his Republican opponent seriously because Mayor Bloomberg endorsed the challenger and opened a campaign office in Fidler’s district, and the challenger ran a “vicious” campaign. He adds that his district has pockets of Republicans. But districtwide, Democrats outnumber them nearly 5-to-1. Fidler hopes to return about $10,000 in matching funds.