The teachers’ union’s political action committee, United for the Future, has released its first television ad touting the union’s chosen mayoral candidate: Bill Thompson.
The ad, entitled “Forgotten,” is clearly meant to appeal to black and Latino voters, touting the former comptroller as the only candidate who will stand up for the sea of diverse faces featured in the slickly-produced 30-second spot.
City Councilman Brad Lander is looking to rein in exploding expenditures from super PAC-like groups with proposed new legislation that would slap cigarette-style warnings on their mailings, among other regulations.
The package of proposed reforms comes as outside groups are pouring millions of dollars into city races through so-called “independent expenditures,” following the Citizens United court decision, which allows near-unlimited spending, as long as the groups don’t directly co-ordinate with campaigns. Of particular concern to Mr. Lander in the real estate industry-backed “Jobs 4 NY” committee, which has already spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on local City Council races–sometimes in the face of candidates’ opposition.
A new generation of super-PAC-like groups have begun to pour money into the city’s races, and several candidates are certainly benefiting.
Former Comptroller Bill Thompson has already been boosted by more than $650,000 in spending on his behalf from groups formed by two of the city’s major unions, according to new disclosure statements filed with the city’s campaign finance board today.
Take a look at the photo to the left. Now zoom in on the man in sunglasses. Just behind the woman in pink’s shoulder. See him? Yeah. Whoops.
A colorful mailer touting mayoral candidate Bill Thompson appears to have made a flub–including what would be the lovely image of Mr. Thompson greeting a smiling little girl–were it not for the guy who seems to be giving the finger to the photographer.
Rivals of City Council Speaker and mayoral frontrunner Christine Quinn released their second attack ad Wednesday morning, this time slamming Ms. Quinn for failing to halt the closure of St. Vincent’s Hospital.
The 30-second spot, courtesy of the new political committee New York City Is Not for Sale, begins with grainy images of an emergency room sign, a screaming ambulance and a gurney being rushed down a hospital hall.
“You don’t know when the next emergency is going to hit you or your family. Often the difference between life and death is measured in minutes, or even seconds,” says a narrator in an ominous voice.
Citing campaign contributions to Rudin Management Company, the ad accuses Ms. Quinn of turning her back on the hospital to help the developers out.
“After Christine Quinn took thousands of dollars from real estate developers who owned the property, she failed to keep St. Vincent’s open, leaving thousands of New Yorkers in need of medical care with nowhere to go,” it says, over video of a sad old woman with a cane sitting alone on a bench in the snow.
“When Christine Quinn allows the things that are most important to New Yorkers to disappear, how can you support her for mayor?” it asks.
New York Is Not for Sale launched earlier this month with the sole mission of insuring that “Anyone but Quinn” is elected mayor this fall.
The spot, which was produced by the Advance Group, is set to begin airing Wednesday on channels including NY1, Bravo and Oxygen as part of the group’s original $250,000 ad buy, a group spokeswoman said. They plan to spend $1 million over the course of the campaign.
Its founding members include the animal rights group New Yorkers for Clean Livable and Safe Streets (NYCLASS), Communications Workers of America union Local 1180 President Arthur Cheliotes and Wendy Neu, the CEO of Hugo Neu Corporation.
“The closing of St. Vincent’s hospital leaves a community out in the cold,” Mr. Cheliotes said in a statement. “Today’s new ad calls attention to a community where residents have nowhere to go in the event of an emergency or health crisis. Christine Quinn played an integral role in letting St. Vincent’s disappear and we cannot support a mayor who would let her donors dictate development at the sacrifice of our communities.”
Ms. Quinn was clearly ruffled by the group’s first ad, which painted her as a calculating politician willing to compromise her principles to get ahead. She called the ad a “disgrace” and her lawyers fired off a letter to Time Warner demanding they stop airing it, claiming that it included false statements, prompting ridicule from her rivals.
Update (12:40 p.m.): It turns out that there was an error in the ad. About 10 second in, writing on the screen claims that Quinn received $59,400 in campaign contributions from Rudin Management. But according to a spokesman for the New York City Campaign Finance Board, that’s not the case.
Thanks to a quirk in the board’s electronic database, some contributions given before term limits were extended happen to show up twice.
“Those contributions shouldn’t be counted twice,” explained spokesman Matt Sollars. In fact, employees of the company have contributed $29,700 to Ms. Quinn’s 2013 campaign, he said.
Kevin Finnegan, the political director of the powerful healthcare workers union, 1199 SEIU, also defended Quinn, saying there was nothing more she could have done to save the hospital from closing.
“Nobody fought harder to save St. Vincent’s than Christine Quinn,” he said. “I was in the middle of that fight from Day 1, and Chris Quinn was by my side the entire time, fighting much harder than anyone else. And to criticize her on that front is baseless. It’s absolutely baseless. It’s absurd.”
Update (1:31 p.m.): Quinn’s campaign spokesman Mike Morey adds:
“This ad has blatant, egregious factual inaccuracies. When St. Vincent’s declared bankruptcy, no one fought harder to make sure that the community continued to have access to critical healthcare services. Thanks to Christine Quinn’s leadership, local residents will have access
to a high-quality, state of the art healthcare facility with a 24-hour emergency room.”