Last week the NY Post ran a story about the Truman Democratic Club violating campaign finance laws for years:
The Lower East Side political club that for years served as the home base for disgraced former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver has failed to publicly disclose its finances, as required by law, for nearly two decades, an activist charges.
Full disclosure: that “activist” is me. First I noticed that neither the Truman Club nor its two candidates for Democratic District Leader, Karen Blatt and Jacob Goldman, had registered campaign committees with the state board of elections. Then, by searching for payments other campaigns have made to the Truman Club over the years, I found close to $100,000 in contributions to Truman that the club has never disclosed. That’s just the tip of the iceberg, because most donors — individuals and corporations — are not required to report their own contributions.
All of this information comes straight from the board of elections database of contributions, which is searchable online.
In contrast, Caroline Laskow and Lee Berman, who are challenging Blatt and Goldman, registered their campaign committee earlier this year and filed their first disclosure report on time.
The Post article appeared last Sunday; on Monday, Blatt registered “Committee to Re-elect Blatt”. This is the second time she’s running for office, but only the first time she’s registered with the state. Her first financial disclosure is due in one week.
Silver’s “enforcer and gatekeeper” still working Grand Street
Meanwhile, NY1 ran a report on Sheldon Silver’s appeal to the Supreme Court, making a sideline to report on Silver’s continued influence on Grand Street in the form of his “enforcer and gatekeeper” and former chief of staff, Judy Rapfogel, who is actively campaigning for the Truman Club’s District Leader candidates, Blatt and Goldman.
Blatt, in a statement to NY1, welcomed Rapfogel’s involvement, calling her “an asset that any campaign would want to have on their side.”
Blatt appointed by Silver to patronage job
Finally, a newspaper in Albany revealed what Blatt herself has not: her current job. Blatt’s online bio does not disclose her current occupation; neither does a color flyer distributed to voters in Seward. Turns out she is co-executive director of a state agency called the Legislative Task Force on Demographic Research and Appointment (LATFOR). LATFOR is essentially responsible for redistricting in New York State, though that authority was shifted to an independent commission following a constitutional amendment passed by voter referendum in 2014.
Critics contend that the agency is now toothless and just “a place for patronage”. The report notes, “LATFOR had faced criticism for drawing district lines that favor the candidates of majority Assembly Democrats and Senate Republicans.” Blatt’s position was made on appointment by Assembly Democrats, who at that time were still controlled by Sheldon Silver.