Kings County Politics

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By Stephen Witt

CFB denial of matching funds questioned

Insurgent 42nd District City Council candidate Mercedes Narcisse and her campaign manager Michael Roberts charged this week that Campaign Finance Board official Chris Dragotakes assured them on numerous occasions that Narcisse was in line to receive public matching funds and yet never received any such money.

According to Campaign Finance Board records, Narcisse raised $95,320 in her failed primary race against Kings County Democratic boss Frank Seddio’s protégé Alan Maisel for term-limited Lew Fidler’s seat. Of this money, Narcisse put in a claim that $34,125 was eligible for public matching funds.

Maisel, the standing assemblyman, raised slightly more than $81,000, or about $14,000 less than Narcisse, and received $92,400 in public matching funds. Additionally, the Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY) spent $237,706 as an independent expenditure on behalf of Maisel’s campaign. They also spent $46,458 in negative mailings and attack ads against Narcisse.

Maisel won the primary with 59 percent of the vote to Narcisse’s 41 percent.

“I think it’s a lot of crap,” said Narcisse campaign manager Mike Roberts of the CFB denying public money to the campaign. “We bent over backwards getting them information and they kept shifting the goal posts. They wanted information dating back to 2007 and making unreasonable demands even after she (Narcisse) was certified and made the threshold twice.”

CFB spokesperson Matt Sollars responded that beginning in March, the campaign failed to respond to routine requests for documentation that helps the CFB ensure campaigns are complying with the law.

“The campaign was never able to satisfactorily demonstrate that it had complied with the disclosure requirements,” he said. “In addition, the campaign had the opportunity to petition the board to reconsider, but failed to do so.”

Narcisse said she didn’t file a petition to the CFB to reconsider because they strung her along for months, and by the time they denied her funds, it was only days before the primary and she had to focus on getting out the vote.

Narcisse said while she has no evidence that Seddio’s powerful Brooklyn machine might have convinced the CFB to go over her papers with a fine-tooth comb, she thinks it is entirely possible.

“The politics around this town is they (the Kings County Democratic Machine) do a lot of things and control a lot of things,” said Narcisse. “But in the future, if they (CFB) really want to help a first-time candidate they should work with them and don’t tell them everything’s okay and then deny funds.”

KCP has issued a FOIL (Freedom of Information Law) request to the CFB for all correspondences between the agency and Narcisse’s campaign for the past year and a half. It is waiting to hear for a reply.

 

Seddio’s Next Decision

With the primary season over, Kings County Democratic boss Frank Seddio has consolidated his role as kingmaker with hardly a reformer in sight.

Among those who Seddio helped to power and who now appear as loyal soldiers are Congressman Hakeem Jeffries, State Senator Eric Adams, who ran unopposed in the primary for Borough President, and City Councilman Jumaane Williams, who came up through Seddio’s powerful Thomas Jefferson (TJ) Democratic Club and will need Seddio’s help in upcoming City Council committee assignments.

Perhaps as a testament to their loyalty, Jeffries, Adams and Williams all shied away from making an endorsement in the recent 46th District City Council primary race between Seddio’s hand-picked candidate Assemblyman Alan Maisel and insurgent Haitian-American candidate Mercedes Narcisse. This, despite the fact the district is crying for more Caribbean-American representation due to changing demographics – particularly in Canarsie and Flatlands.

Interestingly, Democratic mayoral nominee Bill de Blasio was the only major elected official to support Narcisse.

That being said, Seddio’s choice to replace Maisel in the now-open 59th District Assembly seat is sure to cause some grumbling among his loyal soldiers no matter who he picks.

Several sources say that among those Seddio is considering is twenty-something Mitch Partnow, the son of Brooklyn Supreme Court Judge Mark Partnow, and who currently heads the Thomas Jefferson Democratic Youth Club in Canarsie. Among those who appear to like Partnow are some of the party’s young bloods, such as Stefan Ringel, who is the head of the Brooklyn Young Democrats Club.

Ringel was recently named Borough President Marty Markowitz’s new communications chief after serving in a similar capacity for Williams. Markowitz is very close to Seddio, and the KCP thinking is that Ringel is being groomed to become Adams’ communications director or another executive position once he becomes borough president.

But while some of the young Dems would like to see Partnow get the nod for the Assembly seat, others such as Jeffries and Williams might push for a Caribbean candidate to reflect the demographic changes in the district. As such, there is also talk that Roxanne Pursaud, another Seddio loyalist from the TJ Club, is reportedly under consideration for the position.

Seddio could not be reached for comment as his spokesman George Arzt said he is too busy with the judicial convention to comment to KCP about the open seat.

 

Odds & Ends

Looking ahead to the city’s general election in November, there are two City Council races worth watching. The first is the 43rd District covering Bay Ridge where Democratic incumbent Vincent Gentile will face off against Republican John Quaglione, the longtime communications director for Republican State Senator Marty Golden.

While Gentile has a huge financial edge and has to be considered the favorite, Golden remains popular in the district and Quaglione, if he runs smart, has a shot to pull off an upset.

Meanwhile, the 48th District race, which includes the Russian-American enclaves of Brighton Beach and Sheepshead Bay, appears too close to call at this point. Running for Mike Nelson’s term-limited seat are Republican Russian-American David Storobin against Democrat Chaim Deutsch. Storobin is considered a young Republican on the rise, having defeated City Councilman Lew Fidler for the open Senate seat after former Senator Carl Kruger was convicted and jailed on felony corruption charges.

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