A requirement that Democratic Party candidates running for the New York State Senate use The Parkside Group for campaign mailers reminds government reform activists of the years-long prosecutorial effort to bust the corrupt Brooklyn party machine.
The New York Democratic Senate Campaign Committee, or DSCC, headed by State Senator Michael Gianaris (D-Queens), required that "DSCC-backed candidates must use Parkside to print their campaign mail, an arrangement some Democrats have long bristled at," according to a report published by The New York Observer.
The DSCC requirement is similar to requirements demanded of some candidates over a decade go by the Democratic Party of Brooklyn. In 2002, Karen Yellen ran as a candidate for a judgeship for Brooklyn Civil Court. When former Kings County Democratic Party chair Clarence Norman tried to shake down Ms. Yellen’s campaign for costs associated with the printing of campaign literature for a slate of candidates, the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office, led at that time by Charles Hynes, later brought criminal charges against Mr. Norman, alleging that forcing candidates to pay for the costs of campaign literature designed by Ernest Lendler was a way to funnel money to the party's favored political campaign vendors, one sign, according to the District Attorney's Office, that the Brooklyn Democratic Party’s endorsement in judicial races could be had -- for a price, according to various news reports at the time.
In due course, Mr. Norman was found guilty in a jury trial of "coercion, grand larceny by extortion and attempted grand larceny by extortion" stemming from charges of having "coerced two candidates for civil court judge to pay thousands of dollars to favored campaign consultants, or lose his organization’s support in the 2002 primary," according to a 2007 report published by The New York Times.
For years, former Brooklyn District Attorney Hynes had scrutinised the Brooklyn Democratic Party over persistent allegations of corruption. At the time of the 2007 conviction of Mr. Norman, then District Attorney Hynes said of the Brooklyn political machine : “We have exposed it for the evil that it is,” adding in his comments to The New York Times that, “Any political leader who engages in this kind of rank extortion, and think about it, any political leader who tries this, does so at her or his peril.”
A message left with a principal at The Parkside Group, seeking more information about the nature of the firm's work for the DSCC, was not answered.
Seven years after Mr. Norman's conviction, some government reform activists say that the Democratic Party may be back to its old tricks, this time in Queens, but, activists note, there no longer appears to be any prosecutorial appetite by the city's District Attorneys' offices to investigate political corruption as there was a decade ago by former Brooklyn District Attorney Hynes.
Efforts were unsuccessful to reach the Queens District Attorney's Office about the DSCC's requirement to likewise use party-favored political campaign vendors.
A request for an interview with Senator Gianaris went unanswered.