Thursday, August 26, 2010

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee shuns Montgomery (among few incumbents); could Sampson's Atlantic Yards support be the reason?

There was a unexplored angle to a City Hall News article yesterday headlined DSCC Spends On Consultants, WFP, But Not Espada.

The main news was that the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee was not helping scandal-tinged Majority Leader Pedro Espada but helping incumbents with safe seats as well as incumbents faced with primaries but in districts that will remain in Democratic hands. (Shouldn't the DSCC be stressing seats that could be lost to the Republicans? Not in New York.)

However, if Senate Democrats are spending on "nearly every incumbent facing a primary," it was notable that Espada was joined on a very short list of the "outs" by his Bronx ally Rev. Ruben Diaz Sr. and 18th District Senator Velmanette Montgomery, who represents Central Brooklyn.

The AY connection

I haven't been able to learn why Montgomery got the short end of the stick--there could be internal political dynamics at work--but it's worth noting that Senate Democratic Conference Leader John Sampson, some major contributors, and the Senate Democratic Conference's prime strategist are supporters of Atlantic Yards or have ties to Forest City Ratner.

Sampson, notably, was the beneficiary of a fundraiser held at Forest City Ratner offices and signed a letter to Bruce Ratner and Mikhail Prokhorov calling Atlantic Yards "a major economic development venture that is vital to the economy and the future of Brooklyn."

He didn't attend the arena groundbreaking in March but sent his regrets.

Forget charter schools

The issue can't be Montgomery's opposition to charter schools, since Senators Bill Perkins and Shirley Huntley, the other two legislators targeted by charter school proponents, are getting DSCC help for the primary, even though the districts are in safe Democratic hands.

Crain's Insider reported (as noted in this comment) that Montgomery did ask for help:
Insiders say Sampson must bend to members' campaign requests because he needs every one of their votes to pass bills in the narrowly divided Senate.
So if he's ignored Montgomery, that's telling.

The Melvin Lowe connection

City Hall News reported on the DSCC's spending:
The money includes a total of $59,000 paid to G&L consulting, one of the two companies of Melvin Lowe, the consultant who also received $20,000 into Prestige Strategic Consulting from Senate Democratic Conference Leader John Sampson’s personal campaign committee.

According to a DSCC source, this money—which brings Lowe’s total to about $375,000 since he was brought on in the wake of last year’s Senate coup—is to pay for Lowe’s work as a principal advisor, guiding the conference’s political activities.
The shadowy Lowe--whose work was a mystery to several people connected to the DSCC, as City Hall News reported--is a former lobbyist for Forest City Ratner and worked for Montgomery's last opponent, Tracy Boyland, in 2006.

Sampson has own ethics cloud, as the Times reported August 18:
Now it appears that Mr. Sampson also used a Senate staff member on at least one occasion to aid in his representation of Mr. Ahmad, potentially running afoul of state ethics laws.
Montgomery and her rival

Even though she asked the DSCC for money, Montgomery's doing all right; she's got the advantage of incumbency. She's been able to raise $90,000 since the beginning of 2009 and spent nearly $66,250 in that period.

Meanwhile, her rival Mark Pollard has raised $100,730, more than 80% from outside Brooklyn (primarily charter school supporters) and spent $52,405.

A few people involved in Pollard's campaign have AY connections. Pollard paid $160 to Community Benefits Agreement Chair Delia Hunley-Adossa (who last year ran against Council Member Letitia James, a Montgomery ally) for campaign work.

He paid $3000 to BUILD co-founder, Fort Greene activist, and noted public threat-maker Darnell Canada for petitioning.

(Why hasn't there been a debate in this race? You'd think Pollard--who, beyond the policy differences on issues like AY and charter schools, has the legitimate argument that veteran incumbents deserve challenge--would be calling for one, or that some local institution or media outlet would sponsor one.)

McKissack and other construction supporters


Various entities associated with the McKissack Group, the Philadelphia-based construction firm that worked on the railyard for Atlantic Yards, have contributed, in the past year, $2000 to the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee and $5000 to its Republican counterpart, as well as $300 to the Associated General Contractors PAC.

The DSCC has received steady funding from groups like the Association of General Contractors of New York State ($1500), consultant KPMG ($6250), the New York State Laborers PAC ($60,000), the New York City District Council of Carpenters ($20,000), and the Real Estate Board ($20,000).

All might have reason to look askance at Montgomery's anti-AY stance.

1 comment:

  1. Good. Now when Senator Montgomery wins her primary she won't owe a thing to the DSCC slush fund managers.

    If you live in Senator Montgomery's district (the 18th, map here: http://www.nysenate.gov/district/18) don't forget to go out and vote for her in the primary on September 14th.

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