By SAMIA AFSAR
The New York City Campaign Finance Board met February 10, to deliberate about campaign violations by three losing candidates from the 2017 City Council election and imposed penalties totaling $191,122.
Dylan Schwartz, a 2017 City Council candidate for District 51 in Staten Island, was accused of eight campaign violations including accepting over the limit contributions, converting campaign funds to personal use, making impermissible post-election expenditures, and failure to respond to the additional documentation request and draft audit report. The Campaign Financial Board staff also recommended that his campaign be held responsible for repaying public funds.
“I recognize that it is certainly too little too late, but I came to take responsibility for what I am able to at this point,” said Schwartz.
The CFB board found Schwartz guilty of all eight violations and imposed penalties and repayment obligations totaling $107,301.
Martha Speranza, a 2017 City Council candidate for District 4 which runs down the east side Manhattan, was accused of nine campaign violations including, failing to document transactions, accepting contributions from corporations, limited liability companies or partnerships, making impermissible post-election expenditures, and exceeding expenditure limit. The Campaign Financial Board staff further found her campaign responsible for repaying public funds.
Speranza was represented by Alexander Rabb, who asserted, for the most part, the former candidate did not contest the CFB’s findings.
He said the former candidate was consumed by personal problems at the time.
“Running for office was an extremely challenging experience,” said Speranza. “During the course of my campaign, I not only welcomed twins but learned that my mother had terminal cancer and was given six months left to live.”
The CFB Board found Speranza guilty of all nine violations and imposed penalties and repayment obligations totaling $78,154
Randy Abreu, a 2017 City Council candidate for District 4 in the Bronx was accused of seven campaign violations including, failing to demonstrate compliance with cash receipts reporting and documentation requirements, failing to report transactions and daily pre-election disclosure statements, failure to document transactions, and making impermissible post-election expenditures. The Campaign Financial Board found the campaign responsible for repaying public funds.
Abreu was represented by Sarah Steiner who emphasized Abreu was a first time candidate who became overwhelmed by campaign responsibilities, medical emergencies, and financial instabilities.
“He didn’t have a home,” said Steiner. “He had no stable residence and was injured very severely, which caused him to work and find a place to sleep for the night.”
Steiner said Abreu was assaulted in Washington DC, where he was hit on the head by a large jagged rock for which he required intensive medical attention and was diagnosed with post-concussive syndrome.
“This is a very hard way to live and also comply with record keeping requirements,” said Steiner. “He also believed the record requirements were being handled by the people who he had trusted to handle them, and they were not.”
Steiner also defends Abreu’s failure to respond to additional documentation requests stating that he did not receive a letter from the Campaign Finance Board as he lacked a stable home at the time and did not have an address to provide for them at that time.
The CFB Board found Abreu guilty of all seven violations and imposed penalties totaling $5,667. However, the CFB Board did not impose any public funds repayment obligations.