|Part 1. June 5, 2023. FYI. https://robertcox.substack.com/p/unprecedented-60000-dark-money-infusion I am trying to find out more.|
Part 2. June 7, 2023. Here’s more press coverage on the unprecedented and unexplained campaign contribution from the County Democratic Committee to my opponent’s campaign – from the left, the right, and the middle.
The Journal News article by David McKay Wilson, who writes about tax issues and government accountability for the paper, is for subscribers only on lohud.com, so I’ll include an excerpt here along with the link. Please consider subscribing to support local journalism, or buy the paper when the article appears in print within a few days.
Also, see Unusual $60K Contribution to Local Primary Campaign Raises Questions at New RoAR (New Ro Against Racism) News and Westchester Dems Double Down on Dark Money Transfer into New Rochelle Mayoral Race, Part 2 from Talk of the Sound.
Below is an excerpt from the Journal News article:
Westchester Democrats Won’t Disclose Source of $60K Donation in New Rochelle Mayoral Race
David McKay Wilson | Rockland/Westchester Journal News | June 7, 2023
Westchester County’s Democratic organization has showered $60,000 on New Rochelle Councilwoman Yadira Ramos-Herbert’s campaign for the Democratic mayoral primary, but has no plans to disclose before primary day who contributed the campaign cash.
It’s a way to keep secret the source of the unprecedented donation in a local Democratic primary before early voting starts on June 17, with primary day on June 27.
Westchester Democratic Committee Chair Suzanne Berger, who said she authorized the donation, told Tax Watch the party would wait to disclose its donors until its mid-July biannual report. That would come two weeks after votes are counted in the hard-fought contest for the Democratic nomination for New Rochelle mayor between Ramos-Herbert, associate dean of student and registration services at Columbia Law School, and three-term Westchester County Legislator Damon Maher, who has a solo law practice.
“We file twice a year, and we are not going to deviate from that here,” said Berger, of Greenburgh. Waiting that long, however, would violate state election law, a Tax Watch investigation has found. The law requires county party committees to disclose the source of its donations 32 days before a primary if it contributes to candidates running in such an election, said a state Board of Elections spokesperson. That deadline was May 26.
Said Berger: “I’ll look into it.”
Maher opted to run for mayor in 2023 instead of seeking a fourth term on the county board. He’s an independent Democratic voice on the 17-member Legislature that’s controlled by 15 Democrats.
He said the Westchester County Democratic Committee should make an immediate disclosure of its donors, noting the party was already 10 days delinquent with its pre-primary report.
“These are not difficult questions,” said Maher. “Who are your donors? How much did they give?” …
Later in his article, McKay Wilson notes that the County Democratic Commitee’s latest July 2022 disclosure reported large contributions from two housing developers and that raising money for a candidate through the party committee would be a way to get around campaign contribution limits.
Part 3. June 8, 2023. Sorry to fill your inbox with three messages from my personal/political platform this week, but the pace of reporting on the huge and mysterious donation to my opponent has been swift, with various reporters taking on different aspects of this big story, now the 13th day of Westchester County Democratic Committee Chair Suzanne Berger’s failure and refusal to produce the donor list as required by law. I’m still waiting for answers. And I’ll hold off on Part 4 until then.
Here’s a summary of the various reports by Robert Cox, the reporter who broke the story initially: https://talkofthesound.com/2023/06/07/westchester-media-join-coverage-of-60000-dark-money-transfer-to-new-rochelle-mayoral-candidate/
The Yonkers Times, a non-partisan media source, has weighed in, quoting me accurately except that I said I don’t take money from unions that “have employees in the city (or county) government,” the last word of the quote having been left out: https://yonkerstimes.com/who-laundered-60000-to-get-to-new-rochelle-mayoral-candidate-yadira-ramos-herberts-campaign/
And David McKay Wilson of lohud/Journal News added this update to his initial report:
The party’s decision not to file disclosure reports before the primary stands in contrast to what the party did in 2022. That’s when it filed two disclosure reports just before the June primary – 11 days before the vote and 32 days before the vote.
Blair Horner, executive director of the New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG), said state law is clear that a party must disclose where it received its funds when it gives contributions in a primary.
“If a party throws its weight around in a primary, the voters deserve to know where the money came from,” he said. “Those are the rules. They should do it, unless they are trying to hide something, which also argues for them to do it.”
Horner, a longtime critic of New York’s campaign finance system, said individuals or businesses giving large contributions are typically those who have issues before the government.
“It’s typically those who have business before the government or want to curry favor with the people who run government on a local, state or federal level,” he said. “The public has the right to know who is making donations that influence the New Rochelle mayoral race.”