Although he won’t beat the record of the man he’s vying to replace, at 24 years old, Ritchie Torres would be one of the youngest members of City Council ever if he’s elected later this year. And so far at least, it seems he’s positioning himself well to do exactly that, raising $60,0000 in his latest filing and simultaneously announcing the endorsement of the Hotel Trades Council, a relatively small union known for punching above its weight.
“I am so appreciative for this critical endorsement. The Hotel Trades Council has one of the premier get out the vote operations in the state and I’m excited to have them on my team,” Mr. Torres, a staffer for neighboring Councilman Jimmy Vacca, said in a statement.
Battle of Brooklyn
State Senator Daniel Squadron announced today that he’s raised more than $2 million in his race for public advocate. Mr. Squadron, who’s facing three other candidates in a Democratic primary, hauled in a total of $2,150,000 in donations and expected public matching funds. He raised $183,000 in the last two months and has spent only $190,000 overall. Read More
Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez does not forget. And she does not forgive.
Accordingly, Ms. Velázquez is now hoping to unseat Councilwoman Sara Gonzalez, who endorsed Ms. Velázquez’s primary challenger last year. And she’s given the maximum contribution to Ms. Gonzalez’s opponent, Carlos Menchaca, part of an overall haul of $40,000 overall in just two weeks.
“I am impressed by how much Carlos has achieved in such a short period of time,” Ms. Velázquez said in a statement this morning.
Earlier tonight, Comptroller John Liu held a birthday party extravaganza at the renowned Jing Fong dim sum restaurant in Manhattan’s Chinatown. It was quite the affair, featuring a number of speakers, a packed crowd, a massive display of balloons, a gigantic American flag-themed birthday cake and even a celebrity impersonator. The event, which doubled as a fundraiser for his expected mayoral campaign, also served as a teaser for the expected electoral effort.
“2013 is going to be a year of change, a year of change in the City of New York, the greatest city in the world!” Mr. Liu declared in a policy-laden speech outlining his plans to achieve greater economic equality in the five boroughs while deftly avoiding directly announcing his intention to run for mayor. “We’ve got a lot of ideas. We’ve got the will to start this campaign and to win this campaign. And 2013 will be a year of change and with all of your support, I know we’re going to get there.”
Then came the “big” announcement.
Comptroller John Liu, a likely candidate for mayor this year, has been consistently tagged as “embattled” by media outlets due to the criminal indictments against his campaign treasurer and a top donor. Over time, however, the press has largely dropped the term, even as his campaign treasurer’s trial plows ahead.
However, in a brief email to reporters inviting them to attend his birthday party fundraiser tonight, Mr. Liu’s campaign embraced the term themselves with a tongue-in-cheek reference to the candidate as “embattled.”
“Embattled Comptroller John Liu would like to invite you as a guest to his birthday fundraiser tonight,” the invitation read.
In the wake of the killings in Newtown, Hollywood superagent Ari Emanuel is making a donation to Mayors Against Illegal Guns, the initiative co-founded by Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Mr. Emanuel, one of the CEO’s of the massive talent agency William Morris Endeavor and the real-life inspiration for Entourage character Ari Gold, announced his support for Mr. Bloomberg’s anti-gun violence crusade in a blog post on his Linkedin page yesterday.
“There is no way to ignore the tragedy that took place in Newtown. It weighs on us as a country. As a parent it is unfathomable, and compels me to question how this could have happened,” wrote Mr. Emanuel. “I am the first to acknowledge that the issue of gun control is complicated and has many sides. I am not here to educate anyone on the matter. But just because something is complicated doesn’t mean that we should just throw our hands up. It actually means that it matters and that we need to come to the table and figure this out.”
In what he called “my last election,” President Barack Obama scored a hard-fought but comfortable victory over Mitt Romney last month, but that doesn’t mean his email list will no longer be hit up for campaign cash. To wit, Mr. Obama’s electoral operation, Obama for America, is asking their supporters to contribute after filling out a form backing his plan to increase taxes on the wealthiest Americans.
“Thanks for sharing your story. The next chapter begins today. Stand with President Obama for the next four years,” a subsequent contribution form declares.
Mo' Money Mo' Problems
Mayor Michael Bloomberg made a splash by endorsing President Barack Obama this afternoon, however the billionaire’s backing won’t come with any campaign cash from the mayor’s new super PAC. Sources familiar with Mayor Bloomberg’s plans told Politicker “his PAC is not going to be contributing to the president’s campaign.”
Law & Order
Based on a Politicker investigation, Wisconsin Democratic Party Chairman Mike Tate is asking the Federal Election Commission to open an investigation into Paul Ryan’s congressional campaign committee. Last Thursday, we published a report detailing how Paul Ryan, who is simultaneously running for re-election in Wisconsin’s First Congressional District and on the GOP presidential ticket with Mitt Romney, may have improperly used funds from his congressional campaign for about $60,000 in expenses at the Republican National Convention. Mr. Tate’s letter to the FEC said this story shows Mr. Ryan’s congressional campaign committee “co-mingled expenditures between the Committee and the Romney Committee” in violation of federal regulations. Politicker has obtained a copy of Mr. Tate’s letter, which he is sending this week.
“As disclosed in an article published on October 25, 2012 in Politicker.com, a political website operated by The New York Observer, the Committee reported ‘$59,603.41 that was specifically identified as [Republican National] convention-related expenses between July 26 and October 17.’ A copy of the article is attached to this letter,” Mr. Tate wrote. ”A spokesperson for the Committee is quoted as stating that the bulk of such expenses were for the purchase of twenty hotel rooms for use at the Republican National Convention, although the Committee had only five staff members.”
This morning, Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District, announced multiple charges relating to an alleged campaign finance scheme against Albert Baldeo, a Democratic district leader in Queens. Mr. Baldeo, who surrendered to law enforcement this morning, is being accused of using a system of “straw donors” to fill his campaign coffers for his unsuccessful 2010 City Council campaign with “funds drawn from his own bank account disguised as donations from others.” He is also being charged with obstruction of justice for allegedly telling instructing the straw donors to give false information and say the donations were made with their money when FBI agents began investigating his campaign finances. In a statement accompanying the announcement, Mr. Bharara characterized the charges against Mr. Baldeo as proof his office will be continue to be aggressive in pursuing corruption investigations, something which he has earned a reputation for since being sworn in as U.S. Attorney for the Southern District in 2009.