Alan Maisel

We reported yesterday that more than $800,000 has poured into three local City Council races by independent spending committees, or PACs, largely representing the real estate development and business industries. The groups are allowed to spend unlimited amounts, unlike the candidates themselves, but also cannot coordinate with the campaigns by law. The most prominent group, Jobs for New York, representing developers, has doled out the most, with as much as $6 million citywide, according to a New York Times report this morning.

In addition to hundreds of thousands of dollars to support local candidates, they’ve also spent nearly $100,000 locally to distribute negative mailers bashing the opponents of their chosen candidates.

Predictably, those opponents are crying foul. Just this morning, John Lisyanskiy, the target of negative mailers in his campaign to replace Councilman Domenic Recchia, denounced a negative mailer that accused him of stealing from victims of Superstorm Sandy.

“I am disgusted and angered by a recent mail piece that accused me of profiting at the expense of Hurricane Sandy victims. It is sickening that anyone would stoop so low as to insinuate that I exploited the families I had just helped in return for a few bucks,” said Lisyanskiy. “What these attacks really do is illuminate the shadow world of corporate money in campaigns. Jobs for New York, the political action committee for the billion-dollar real estate industry and the Small Business Coalition are responsible for these attacks. Corporate Tycoons don’t care about the larger civic good, or constructive ideas that move our community forward. They are interested in two things only, getting richer and instilling fear and blame.”

Lisyanskiy and other targets of negative mailers from these PACs have demanded that those the PACs support denounce the negative mailers.

The candidates who have received that support, though, have largely kept mum. Lisyanskiy’s opponent, Mark Treyger, hasn’t said a word about the PACs. And though Ari Kagan, recipient of Jobs for New York support in his race for Councilman Michael Nelson’s seat, expressed displeasure in passing, his campaign refused to denounce the negative ads during a follow up from this outlet.

However, after our report yesterday, Assemblyman Alan Maisel, who has received more than $200,000 from Jobs for New York and a PAC representing the teachers’ union, went on the record repudiating the mailings. Maisel is running to replace Councilman Lew Fidler. Here is his statement in full:

For the third time in about a week, the independent PAC Jobs for New York has sent a negative campaign mailer about my opponent in the Democratic Primary. First and foremost, I want to repudiate these mailings and frankly, if I knew how and it weren’t against the law for me to communicate with this independent PAC, I would ask them to stop. I want to apologize to all those who have been the subject of and who have been subjected to these mailings.

I have attempted to run a wholly positive campaign and I will not condone negative attacks, particularly ones as tenuous as these. I look forward to concluding this campaign with dignity, integrity and on exclusively positive notes.

We’ve dropped a note to the Kagan and Treyger campaigns to see if they’ll do the same, and will update this story when we hear back.

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  • Kagan

    “We’ve dropped a note to the Kagan and Treyger campaigns to see if
    they’ll do the same, and will update this story when we hear back.”

    Kagan is too lost to know how to respond, he only knows how to kiss old Russians. He also needs to take a shower more than once a week.

  • BrooklynBus

    Why is it against the law for Maisel to communicate with the PACs to tell them to stop?

    • http://sheepshead.wpengine.com/ Ned Berke

      Councilman Lew “from Brooklyn” Fidler had some trouble with our commenting system, and asked that I post this reply from him to you:

      “The independent expenditure of the Jobs PAC must be done without any communication or coordination whatsoever from the candidate or his campaign. Violating this rule could result in a forfeiture of the candidate’s full amount of matching funds and or a fine from the Campaign Finance Board.”

    • http://sheepshead.wpengine.com/ Ned Berke

      Now that I’ve added Lew’s comment, I’ll note that it better answers the question “what happens if he communicates with the PACs?”

      As for “why?”, it’s because it would undermine the entire campaign financing system. Candidates have contribution limits and spending limits to try to blunt the overstated voice of well-funded special interests, encourage participation from a broader spectrum of the public, and to level the playing field so that candidates have the same access to a pot of money with which to campaign.

      If campaigns and PACs could communicate, all of that goes out the window. Sure, candidate A still has his contribution and spending limits, but he can ask his buddy to set up PAC B, which can then raise an unlimited amount of funds and spend it however the campaign sees fit.

      While the current law – which is new – is certainly undermining the system, it would be far worse in that scenario. I think what needs to be done is a refinement of these laws so that the PACs cannot support or oppose any candidate, but only focus on issues. Their mailers should not have any candidate’s name on it, much the same way certain nonprofit classifications bar organizations from supporting or opposing candidates. A PAC’s mandate should be educational, not partisan.

      • BrooklynBus

        Thanks to you and Lew for the answer.

  • Citizen

    It is against the law to communicate with PACs but I do believe that some of candidates, Kagan for sure, communicate with their reach supporters. The content of a negative mailing is very close to what he had said on few occasions. Him and Treyger has enough time to denounce this nonsense but money and more money is more important.

    • guest

      Is all you do is post here talking about how pro-Chaim you are? How would you have any idea that he communicates with the PACs? You’re just stating baseless facts – talk about being unbiased.

      • citizen

        Yes, I am pro-Chaim! He is real! And the only reason I say that Kagan communicates with the PACs is no one but Kagan knows about his accomplishments. But the main point is if the candidate disagrees with the lies and accusation, he or she will denounce it. Kagan is silent, maybe the first time in his life.

  • galina

    I left Communist county and I don’t want to vote for communist regime here.
    To be a council man Ari and Mark can betray and sale everyone.
    Includes friends if they have.
    I* m not talking about the people who is kiss their a…

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