Thursday, August 7, 2008

Gallagher Spent Leftover Campaign Money During Final Months in Office

By Conor Greene

While former City Councilman Dennis Gallagher’s final few months in office were relatively quiet, the Middle Village Republican was busy spending money left in his campaign fund on donations to local groups and pricey meals at a local restaurant.

Although Gallagher’s legal troubles began last summer, he continued to raise money with a committee formed with the state Board of Elections for a potential run at higher office, even though his political career was essentially already sunk by the criminal charges.

After being charged with rape last August, Gallagher pled guilty in March to sexually assaulting a 52-year-old woman in his campaign office last summer. He resigned from his position on the City Council on April 18. As part of the plea agreement, Gallagher admitted he had “forcibly touched” the woman without her consent in his Metropolitan Avenue campaign office. The guilty plea spared him from registering as a sex offender and serving jail time.

During the final four months of his tenure representing the 30th Council District, Gallagher kept a low profile. However, he was busy spending $22,000 that was left in his “Gallagher New York” account on file with the state Board of Elections. A review of his campaign finance disclosure filed with the state for the for January to July shows him doling out money to some of his favorite groups, including two donations totaling $6,000 to the Greater Ridgewood Youth Council.

The disclosure also shows that Gallagher shelled out nearly $3,000 for five meals at O’Neill’s bar and restaurant on 53rd Drive in Maspeth. Those totals included $435 for dinner on March 3, a $382 dinner on March 28 and a $359 lunch on April 4. Finally, on April 18 – his last day on the City Council – Gallagher spent $200 for lunch and $1,512 for dinner.

A spokesperson at the state Board of Elections said that under election laws, the money is not allowed “to be converted for personal use” but can be spent at restaurants if it comes in the course of performing duties as a public official
or candidate.

Gallagher continued to raise money through the end of 2007 under a committee formed on the state level, but hasn’t filed any paperwork with the city regarding a future run for office, according to the city Campaign Finance Board. An audit of his campaign spending from his last run for City Council was completed this year and resulted in no penalties.

Gallagher was unable to be reached for comment regarding the expense report.

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