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.