Project Wonderful

Friday, March 6, 2015

Think NYC Is A Liberal Paradise? Think Again.

Devotees will remember my devotion for (and erstwhile employment by) Working Families Party, a fairly powerful union-backed progressive third party in New York State. From their website:
Working Families is New York’s progressive political party. The Working Families Party is focused on tackling the political, economic, and educational inequality that deprive working and middle class families of opportunity. Our vision is to build a New York that is fair for all of us, not just the wealthy and well-connected.
Part of the genius of WFP, and why it has been able to be effective, is a mechanism known as fusion voting. As I explained in a 2011 post:
Here's how it works: WFP, or another third party, endorses a candidate already in the race. For WFP it is usually, but not always, a Democrat. Voters can vote for the candidate on either the Democratic or the Working Families Party line, and the votes for the candidate from both lines are tallied together. For example, if candidate X receives 30% of the total votes cast on the Democratic Party line and 20% of the total votes on the WFP line, while candidate Y receives 45% of the total votes on the Republican line, candidate X still wins!
This allows voters to exert pressure on politicians to vote in line with the politics of a progressive workers party without risk of "spoiling" the vote. Fusion voting is only legal in a handful of states, most notably New York and Connecticut. New York WFP has had an impressive track record of playing in Democratic primaries.

Although New York City votes overwhelmingly Democratic, it is home to several iterations of the Democratic party (and of course some Republicans). I don't know if you've ever heard this, but quite a few rich people live in New York- rich people who have socially progressive views, but also a vested interest in opposing things like paid sick leave and raising the minimum wage.

It can come as no surprise then that some Scott-Walker-in-sheep's-clothings have been on a cycles-long crusade against WFP, under the guise of enforcing clean elections. There are literally dozens of examples; here is one. But it did come as a surprise to me this morning to find out that the latest phase of this witch hunt involves the impending arrest of my friend and mentor in NYC politics. (I am not including her name to minimize her current Googleability but you can click the link to read.) This person hired me to manage my first campaign, for a WFP-backed candidate to whom she is now Chief of Staff.

These accusations have been around since 2009 and WFP's political opponents have desperately and unsuccessfully been trying to get anything to stick. As the Daily News
reported in December,
"Some close to the Working Families Party [including me] accuse Adler [the special prosecutor in the case] of having a longstanding political vendetta against the labor-backed political organization — dating back to his membership on the Kings County judicial screening committee for former Brooklyn Democratic Leader Vito Lopez, a frequent WFP advisary [sic].

Adler critics also note he lost his race for a civil court judgeship partially as a result of a reform ticket pushed by the Working Families Party.

They also point to a never before released 2012 letter from lawyer David Brown to a party official — obtained by the Daily News — which indicates Adler made up his mind two years ago that crimes had been committed and was threatening to expand his probe unless the party agreed to a settlement in the Rose case."

So you know, no conflict of interest there.

Yesterday's New York Times article explains that
for all parties, this is a matter that could have been an episode of “The Twilight Zone,” full of weirdness: what appears to be a first-of-its-kind case brought over errors that happen in many, many campaigns across the city. Normally, these errors are caught by the Campaign Finance Board, which audits political spending. The paperwork is then refiled with the proper information. Everyone lives happily ever after, with no handcuffs or police cars involved.
The article mentions that eight of nine campaigns that were subject to spurious campaign finance accusations were cleared with evidence of either no reporting errors or trivial ones. One of those eight was the campaign I managed. So for several reasons, these accusations hit close to home.

In a world where money is increasingly influential in our elections, the idea that anti-union politicians are persecuting and intimidating pro-union activists under the guise of campaign finance violations is an absolute farce. This is no better than the "beat 'em or cheat 'em" politics that Republicans use to disenfranchise their opponents through voter registration restrictions and voter ID laws. This is some horseshit. Roger Bennett Adler and the corrupt politicians he represents should be ashamed of themselves.

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