Government / Politics

Campaign funds pour in for Salamanca

Public matching funds could level playing field

When you’re running for office, it helps to have friends in high places, the latest campaign finance disclosures in the race to represent Hunts Point, Longwood and part of Mott Haven in the City Council show.

Rafael Salamanca, the candidate backed by the Bronx Democratic Party machine, continues to bring in large contributions from elected officials and from businesses that need the support of politicians.

His recent benefactors include the political action committee of the Rent Stabilization Association, the organization that represents the city’s apartment house landlords, and a vice president of FreshDirect, the online grocer whose move to Port Morris continues to draw protest, as well as real estate executives Michael Benzi and Soonae Sakow and her husband Jason, each of whom gave $1000.

State Assembly members Jeffrey Dinowitz, Carl Heastie and Robert Rodriguez each gave $1375, the maximum permissible, and Assemblyman Michael Bendetto added $500, bringing his total from elected officials to $9,750, nearly 14 percent of the $70,107 he has raised all-told.

Salamanca also has the support of some locally-based non-profits, including a leader of the Ghetto Film School and members of Community Board 2, where he served as district manager. Fifteen employees of Urban Health Plan contributed $1440, and a management consultant to UHP, Jason Martin, added $1000.

While Salamanca has raised and spent the most money, the city’s matching funds program, which is designed to level the playing field, added $34,471 to the Rev. J. Loren Russell’s war chest on Feb. 11, and another $8,375 on Feb. 18, giving him $43,468 on hand. Most of the money he raised in the latest filing period, between Jan. 19 and Feb. 8, came in the form of contributions of $50 or less. Twenty-seven of the 56 donations were from retirees.

Salamanca regained the lead in fund-raising on Feb. 18, when the Campaign Finance Board released $36,732 to him, giving him $54,424 for the final push. Pabon got $33,432 in public funds, swelling his war chest to $33,550.

While Pabon relied chiefly on small contributions, he did have three larger contributions, one of $1000, one of $500 and a $250 contribution from Cecil Joseph, who served as deputy Bronx borough president in the mid-1980s, and briefly as interim borough president when Stanley Simon resigned to face corruption charges.

George Alvarez. who had $11,130 on hand, disclosed his affiliation with the Republican Party on his third campaign finance form, which he filed later than the other candidates. The form lists a $3,000 contribution to the GOP and the employment as consultants of Bronx Republican leaders Ernest Kebreau, Jose Colon and Fred Brown.

Neither Joann Otero nor Marlon Molina received public funds in the initial distribution, although they may later. Otero had $5155 remaining and Molina had $3803.

Most of the money the candidates have spent to date has gone to consultants, to on-line fund-raising firms and to the effort to gather petitions. The money that remains in their accounts is likely to be spent on advertising and a get-out-the-vote effort on Feb. 23.

The five candidates who were successfully challenged by the Salamanca campaign and removed from the ballot can use the money they raised in a future race, including the 2017 Democratic primary for the City Council seat, if they wish, or they can contribute to other political campaigns.

Two of those candidates had substantial bank balances: Amanda Septimo had $28,680 when she was forced out of the race, and Carlton Curry had $17,321.

This story was updated to reflect the filing of George Alvarez, which was posted on-line after the Presidents Day holiday and to reflect the infusion of public funds from the Campaign Finance Board to three of the candidates on Feb. 18.

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