From City Hall:
Steve Behar, an attorney mounting a race in Queens for the seat of retiring Assembly Member Ann-Margaret Carrozza, claims that two pro-charter school bundlers have enough faith in his candidacy to have offered to raise him up to $200,000 in exchange for him changing his position on charter schools to support their expansion.
Many in what was a wide field of Democrats cleared out of the race at the end of last month, after Ed Braunstein, a staffer for Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, received the support of the Queens County Democratic organization. Among those who did not is Behar, who lost a primary battle for the Council seat eventually won by Dan Halloran, and has remained in the race.
Braunstein is likely to be backed by the generally charter-cool teachers unions, given that he has the support of Silver, an ally of the unions. But in a letter written to the website Queens Teacher, Behar claimed that he was being courted to come out in favor of the charters.
“In the last few weeks two separate ‘political fundraisers’ promised to raise between $100K and $200K for my campaign if I changed my position to favor charter schools,” Behar wrote. “Since I’m running against a well-funded inexperienced and unqualified candidate (Ed Braunstein) who works for the Albany leadership and is in the pocket of the lobbyists and the special interests, that money would have really helped my campaign. However, keeping to my core beliefs, I refused to change my position and thus refused the money.”
In an interview, Behar said he turned the bundlers down on principle. He declined, however, to give the names of the two bundlers, citing concerns about scaring away future potential fundraisers and donors to his campaign.
All Behar would say is that one of the people he claims was involved approached him three weeks ago at the New York State Young Democrats convention, and the other approached him at a political event a week ago. When asked which event, though, Behar said he could not recall.
When told about the letter, Braunstein’s campaign blasted Behar for not disclosing who the bundlers were, and said he should report such incidents to the police, if they in fact occurred.