Thursday, August 5, 2010

First Jabs Thrown in State Senate Showdown

By Eric Yun

The first jabs have been thrown in the race between Republican challenger Anthony Como and incumbent State Senator Joseph Addabbo as the battle for the 15th Senate District seat begins.

The New York City Campaign Finance Board (CFB) fined Como $500 and determined he must return $12,484 of unspent camaign funds. The infractions were from Como’s unsuccessful campaign against City Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley (D-Middle Village) in the 2008 general election.

The CFB released its aduit on July 22nd. According to the report, Como and campaign treasure Laura Schreiner must repay the board by August 25th or risk civil action.

The $500 penalty was the result of two infractions. Como’s campaign purchased a $100 advertisement from the Holy Child Jesus Teen Drama Club in September, and then spent more than $6,000 in impermissible post-election expenditures for office equipment and phone and Internet services.

Como’s campaign contends the spending, which occurred at the tail end of the campaign, was necessary because both companies only offered long-term contracts. However, the CFB determined that portions of these contracts were impermissible.

Como’s Campaign Attorney Grant Lally reiterated to The Forum that the contracts were only available a year at a time and downplayed the issue. “At the end of the day, it’s just $500 in fines,” he said, adding that Como was very cooperative furnishing reports, and the unspent funds and fines will be paid.

This didn’t stop New York Democrats from jumping at the opportunity to take shots at Como.

“The recent Campaign Finance Board decision fining Anthony Como $12,484 for violating campaign finance law is yet another example of this career politician’s utter disregard for the law and New York’s overburdened taxpayers,” said Eric Blankenbaker, spokesman for the New York State Democratic Senate Campaign Committee.

Como fired a shot at Addabbo’s campaign as well this week. He Filed a challenge against signatures Addabbo’s campaign collected to land him on the Working Families Party (WFP) ballot line.

The WFP is a progressive party that fights for middle and working class families. They support universal health care, affordable transportation, good jobs and fair taxes. Under a request from Como’s campaign, the Board of Elections’ clerks examined Addabbo’s signatures for the WFP line.

Addabbo received 30 signatures, but under a review from the clerks, seven signatures were invalidated. A total of 24 signatures are needed to be listed on the party line, which left Addabbo one signature short.

The clerks’ report was examined by a non-partisan group to ensure its accuracy before being sent to the Board of Elections commissioners for a vote. According to Como’s campaign, this process was conducted twice because of complaints from Democrat Commissioners, but ther clerks’ report was still eventually sent for a vote.

The Board of Elections Commissioners voted 5-4 in favor of accepting the report, but a total of six votes were needed. Five Republicans voted in favor, and four Democrats voted against. As a result, Addabbo is allowed to remain on the WFP ballot line in November.

“I have been practicing Election Law for many years and never witnessed a refusal to accept the clerk’s report,” Lally said. “This decision is politically motivated and ignores Board of Elections protocol. I look foroward to having our argument heard in a court of law.”

Addabbo contends he had enough signatures, and this is just a common election game from Como to shift focus away from real issues. “I didn’t challenge any of his signatures,” Addabbo said. “I’m focusing on the quality of life issues that serve my communities.”

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