Labor leader says Abbate’s ‘union-made’ Christmas cards are a sham

Bogus bug: The label on the Bensonhurst Assemblyman’s Christmas cards are too illegible and smudgy to be printed from a union shop.
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A member of the Assembly’s Labor Committee sent out campaign mailers that may falsely imply he used unionized printing, and now labor groups are investigating.

Assemblyman Peter Abbate (D–Bensonhurst) mailed Christmas cards last week bearing a so-called “union bug” — a label indicating they were produced by a union shop — in a bid to court voters in the Bay Ridge city Council district where he’s mulling a run, according to an Observer report. But the label is too smudged to clearly indicate what shop made the mailers, and Abbate himself doesn’t know who produced them, raising questions whether the longtime state pol is fudging the facts, critics say.

“My eyes immediately went to the union bug, and that was a concern. It’s not a real union bug, it’s just a smudge. It looks like it’s smudged so you can’t trace it,” said a Democratic source aligned with another candidate for the seat.

Only one union produces such a label — the Allied Printing Trades Council. But the group’s local chapter says that the bug doesn’t look legit, and so it is putting Abbate’s fliers under the microscope, hoping to find the printer used the label — apparently to misrepresent itself as a union shop, according to a labor honcho.

“We are doing our own independent investigat­ion,” said John Heffernan, president of the print union’s New York City chapter. “We’re looking at the shop, the origin of this literature, and also want to look back at previous years.”

Abbate doesn’t know who printed the cards — or where — but he insists they are union-made. He sent the order to a broker in North Carolina, but he will not know where the printing was done until he gets an invoice after Christmas, he said.

“I don’t know where they were printed. I didn’t get a bill,” he said. “I sent it out to a company. I gave it to a broker. There’s nothing wrong with the card, to my knowledge it’s union-printed. I don’t know who did the printing, because I didn’t get the bill. Give me a call on the 27th, and I will have the information for you.”

This isn’t the first time the state legislator has stamped the suspicious bug on his mailers — fliers from 2010 and 2014 show a similar, illegible label on the bottom-right corner.

Abbate is rumored to be eyeing term-limited Councilman Vincent Gentile’s Bay Ridge seat. The mailers were specifically sent to people living in that Council district, the Observer reported.

Some say the 68-year-old legislator (first elected to his state seat in 1986) is hungry for a juicy municipal paycheck — local legislators make $148,500 while Abbate and his colleagues in Albany haul in $79,500 annually — or a municipal pension, but he’s previously denied he’s in it for the money.

Abbate does not have to step down from the Assembly before running for Council.

• • •

A campaign finance law passed last week is raising eyebrows because it may lead to fraud in the city’s matching-funds program.

The program matches 6-to-1 individuals’ donations up to $2,750, meaning a participating pol who gets $2,750 from one private citizen gets another $16,500 from the city.

Previously, donors had to fill out and sign a card proving they were real people who actually made the donation, and campaigns could not alter it in anyway — a way of preventing fraud and abuse.

But a new law introduced by Councilman David Greenfield (D–Midwood) and signed by Mayor DeBlasio on Dec. 22 allows campaigns to fill out the cards themselves.

An early version of the bill that let campaigns fill out everything but the donors’ name was so contentious that Councilman Carlos Menchaca (D–Red Hook) — a co-sponsor — removed his name from the measure.

But Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office cleaned up the proposal so campaigns can fill out the forms but donors must review them after they are completed and verify their authenticity with a signature.

The amended bill passed Council unanimously, but giving campaigns more leeway when filling out financial disclosures is a step backwards, according to a good-government group.

“It does lessen the chance of fraud by no longer allowing for the contribution cards to be filled out after the contribution has been filled out, however it still removes the donor from taking full responsibility for filling out the card,” said Dick Dadey, who heads Citizens Union.

Reach reporter Julianne Cuba at (718) 260–4577 or by e-mail at Follow her on Twitter @julcuba.

Updated 1:18 pm, December 22, 2016
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Reader feedback

Jeff from Brighton Beach says:
If Mr. Abbate says he gave it to a broker in North Carolina and it was a Union shop , the bug would also have with inside the union label , the state in which the Allied shop is located and in addition a shop number would be located to the right side of the union label.
Abbate is just lying about where his literature is being printed.
This should not only disqualify him from his Assembly seat but disqualify him from running for the Council. If he lies about not giving out his printing to a bonifide Union shop , I can't imagine what he has lied about over the many years he has been in government .
Trying to back track on this issue and trying to clean it up won't change the fact he has LIED.
We have had enough with liars in government !
Dec. 22, 2016, 10:47 am
SEE-MORE from Sheepshead Bay says:
Dear Jeff - You are correct. We have had enough liars in government. That is why Crooked Hillary did bot win. Even though Trump's name was on my ballot I did N OT cast my vote for him. I voted against Crooked Hillary the Liar.
Dec. 22, 2016, 12:10 pm
Jeff from Brighton Beach says:
Sy ,

That election is over. All politics is local. So let's start from the bottom up. Let's not put into office liars in the State Assembly or the City Council. This would be a good place to start.
Dec. 22, 2016, 12:21 pm
Anastasia Dabydova from Flushing says:
Jeff is correct. All politics IS local. In some ways, who sits on the local school board, the community planning board, the school PTA, the NYC Council is as important as who lives in 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Of course, we must be extraordinarily careful about who we elect to the Council, the Assembly, the (State) Senate and who sits on the local judiciary. For example, there is an anti-semite sitting on the bench who MUST be removed (Judge Cheryl Gonzales - Kings Civil NYC).
Dec. 23, 2016, 8:16 am
James from Bensonhurst says:
Let's face it. Abbate is almost 70 years old. He is tired of running up to Albany and wants to park his ass in the City Council and have a real cushy job for the next 4 or 8 years.
He should bow out gracefully .
Let new blood run things in the City Council and not just take up space in City Hall.
Look around Abbate , the city council members are all young(except for a few) who just don't want to give it up.
We need new ideas not the same old , same old.
That's the only thing Abbate can offer the community.
Dec. 23, 2016, 10:56 am
jw says:
Agree with James. If Abate runs, no one will challenge him. That only hurts the district. There are several younger people out there who have been very involved with community issues. They are interested in running, but they know that they won't have a chance against Abbate's war chest. I would love to see a primary so at least there's a choice.
Dec. 23, 2016, 11:26 am
Carlo from Dyker Heights says:
It makes sense Abbate would pick North Carolina when lying about where his Christmas card was made. He is one of the most anti-gay Democrats in New York State.
Dec. 23, 2016, 12:32 pm
Matt J from n/a says:
Peter told my father at the union Christmas party that he is going to run for the Counsel next year because he wants there to be more money when he retires. He said something about his pension rates. I think if Peter gets the Counsel salary it will give him more money when he retires. Does he have to give up his seat now to run? If so, who will run for his seat in Albany ?
Dec. 23, 2016, 12:49 pm
Carlo from Dyker Heights says:
Abbate tells everybody he is running because of the money. He has no shame.
Dec. 23, 2016, 12:55 pm
Mitzi Winters from Brooklyn Heights says:
A sham??? Ha!!!!
More like sham, wham, thank you man!
Dec. 25, 2016, 12:47 pm

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