Sunday, September 27, 2009
More dirty dealings in Council District 19 race
From City Hall:
On July 16, a legal aid worker named Barbara Byrne quietly filed petitions to run as the Working Families Party designee in the district currently represented by Tony Avella. That Byrne was not herself a resident of the district, never opened an account with the Campaign Finance Board or had anything resembling a campaign operation was irrelevant: she was never planning to be on the ballot.
Byrne is in line to be nominated by the WFP for Queens County Supreme Court judgeship at the WFP’s judicial convention this weekend, according to a source with knowledge of the situation...
Byrne, a party loyalist, is unlikely to win the judgeship, given that Queens Democrats are expected to nominate someone else at their judicial convention scheduled for Thursday evening.
But the maneuver allowed the WFP to stay out of a contested Democratic primary—one of the few on which the party was silent, and the only one among that small group in which a competitive general election was expected—and assured that whoever won, the Democratic and WFP support would be unified for the general election. From the outset, the plan was to have Byrne as a placeholder who would be removed through the judicial nomination so that the WFP could have a candidate for November without having one in September.
Byrne did not return calls requesting comment.
Byrne had originally collected 11 signatures in total, via two petition gatherers. One of those, Alex Melman, describes himself as a summer intern for the WFP on his Facebook page. The other, Sarah Abernathy, was described in a New York Times article last fall about the WFP’s efforts fighting the term limits extension as a canvasser, and the WFP campaign finance disclosures with the state Board of Elections show a payment of $120 to her for get-out-the-vote and canvassing on Election Day 2008.
WFP spokesman Dan Levitan declined comment on Byrne or the ballot line in the Council district.
Kim said that he was unaware of the maneuvering by the WFP and was unsure whether he would indeed get the party line.
...Halloran challenged Kim not to take the WFP line, both because of questions about the party’s for profit company, Data and Field Services, and because of the machinations involved in giving Kim the line.
“For someone who talks about the need for reform, it would raise a red flag to accept the nomination of a party that has been shown not to be following campaign finance rules, and whose problems extend nationally, to the scandals surrounding ACORN,” Halloran said. “And the way that he is going to get the line—it was a straw card from the beginning.”