A candidate seeking Borough President Adams’s old seat in the state senate is distributing literature that is raising political watchdogs’ eyebrows.
Jesse Hamilton — whom Adams appointed to continue constituent services in the district when he entered Borough Hall — is reportedly handing out cards at local community meetings featuring a large photo of himself next to the senate seal. The card, which declares that “The 20th Senatorial District Office is Still Open and Ready to Serve,” uses the same photo the candidate is using on his campaign literature, blurring the line between his official work and his campaign.
“I’ve never seen literature distributed by a staff member where the staff member is offering services from an office where the staff member’s photo is on the literature,” said Alex Camarda, director of advocacy and public policy for good-government group Citizens Union. “He’s distributing something that looks like campaign literature, and feels like campaign literature, but it’s actually promoting himself as a government employee.”
The law prohibits the use of public resources to support a political campaign. But top election lawyers said that the literature could probably withstand legal muster, if not the ethics smell test.
“It appears legal,” said attorney and election law expert Jerry Goldfeder.
Hamilton did not respond to repeated calls for comment.
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One leading Brooklyn Democrat is betting the GOP will drop embattled Rep. Michael Grimm (R–Bay Ridge) before the November election — and recommended that his own party might want to dump its own contender, former Coney Island Councilman Domenic Recchia, as well.
Assemblyman Bill Colton (D–Bensonhurst) said that he expects the national Republican Party to begin polling voters in the Staten Island-to-Gravesend-spanning district to figure Grimm’s re-election odds in light of his recent indictment for alleged tax fraud at a Manhattan restaurant he co-owned prior his election in 2010.
Colton predicted that the surveys would find that Recchia now has the edge in the race, and the GOP to force Grimm out of the contest. The Republicans could nominate a new congressional candidate if Grimm agreed to run for a judgeship instead.
“They’ll make him an offer he can’t refuse,” Colton predicted.
Colton suggested that the GOP might swap in the Rock’s popular Republican district attorney Daniel Donovan — leaving the Brooklynite Recchia at a disadvantage in the district, which mostly covers Staten Island.
“If Donovan runs, he would be an odds-on favorite to win,” Colton said. “Domenic may not be the right candidate. It’s early still, and there’s no telling what might happen.”
Colton proposed that the Dems might want to use the judgeship maneuver to replace Recchia with Assemblyman Michael Cusick (D–Staten Island).
Grimm has repeatedly vowed to remain in the race, and Recchia’s camp declined to comment.
Recchia won his council seat in 2002 with the backing of Colton’s vaunted political operation. But the two suffered a falling out shortly afterward, and feuded openly over the administration of Bath Beach’s Lafayette High School in 2007.
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Recchia’s lucky break against Grimm has inspired another Dem to step into the ring with state Sen. Marty Golden (R–Bay Ridge).
Sources close to Bay Ridge Democratic activist Jamie Kemmerer say he has decided to challenge the six-term incumbent, on the off chance that Preet Bharara — the U.S. attorney who handed down the Grimm indictment — also goes after Golden.
Gov. Cuomo’s anti-corruption Moreland Commission last year began investigating tax breaks Golden sponsored for several Manhattan real estate developers, and was looking into a sketchy Borough Park charity — that did not provide any charitable services — to which Golden allocated funds.
Cuomo dissolved the commission last month as part of a deal with the legislature to pass ethics reform. Bharara — once the legal counsel to Sen. Charles Schumer (D–Park Slope) — vowed to continue the commission’s work.
Golden’s only other announced opponent, Dyker Heights attorney John Gangemi, had already decided to drop out of the race before hearing of Kemmerer’s candidacy, opting instead to devote his energies to supporting Recchia’s congressional campaign.
Golden declined to comment.
©2014 Community News Group
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