By Alex Distefano
By Scott Snowden
By Anna Merlan
By Steve Almond
By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
"Shame on them all," an outraged New York Times declared last October, naming, among others, City Comptroller Bill Thompson and Attorney General Eliot Spitzer. The editorial, written in response to the conviction of Brooklyn Democratic boss Clarence Norman, condemned the "business-as-usual" silence of top Democratic leaders to "the major blot on New York's civic life" that Norman's rule symbolized.
Strangely, however, when Norman's self-described "best friend" and closest political associate, Carl Andrews, a state senator who's received hundreds of thousands of dollars in Norman-inspired patronage, boldly decided a few months later that he would run for Congress, the Times itself became shamefully silent. Even when Thompson and Spitzer did finally speak outendorsing Andrews with great fanfareno one in the New York media, which have spent years tracking the Norman gang, denounced them.
Placed on the state senate payroll at Norman's request in 1994 ("Fees and Thank You," July 1925), Andrews wound up collecting $138,000 in campaign payments from candidates Norman endorsed, including Thompson and Spitzer, only climbing off the gravy train when Norman handed him a suddenly vacant senate seat in 2002. Andrews also collected $137,242 in receivership commissions from Brooklyn judges beholden to Norman and thousands more in auctioneer fees from a surrogate court judge whose campaign Andrews managed and who was ultimately forced from office in disgrace. Andrews's state salary since Norman became his employment agentincluding four years as Spitzer's director of intergovernmental operationstotals another $969,855.59.
As wide-open an invitation as that résumé is for reporters and opponents, Andrews has managed to march through most of the primary season virtually unchallenged, almost as if he were a new, ebulliently engaging face on the scene. During a two-hour debate at the Duryea Presbyterian Church in Prospect Heights last week, the polite hosts and two of Andrews's low-key opponents, City Councilman David Yassky and former school board member Chris Owens, never uttered a word about the sewer Andrews wallowed in for a decade. The fourth candidate, City Councilwoman Yvette Clarke, didn't bother to show.
While any editor with access to clips could write a profile of Andrews that would give even his Crown Heights neighbors reason to pause, the Voice prefers to add new spice to the all-too-familiar saga. Here are the highlights:
Andrews delivered $55,000 in precious senate grants in 2004 and 2005 to the Local Development Corporation of Crown Heights, which has retained Clarence Norman as a consultant. Started by Norman's father in the 1980s, the LDC had also collected $371,500 since 2003 in assembly funding from Norman, who, as a leading member of the Democratic assembly majority at the time, had much more pork power than Andrews. The GOP senate majority greatly limits the so-called "member items" that Democrats control, so Andrews tried, in a Voice interview, to lowball what he'd given, insisting "it was just $5,000 or $10,000."
The LDC got $1.4 million in city and state grants in 2004, the last year it filed its annually required reports with Spitzer's office. It spent almost half of that on "consulting and school education services." The nonprofit is so intertwined with Norman and Andrews that William Boone III, a defense witness for Norman who has worked as a consultant in Andrews campaigns, is a member of its board. Boone succeeded Andrews as the treasurer of the Brooklyn Democratic organization in 1998, when Andrews resigned to assume his Spitzer post.
While Andrews and Boone were two of the Norman associates routinely placed on the payroll of Norman- endorsed candidates, the new star in that boutique business is Moses "Musa" Moore, who's collected over $370,000 from at least 18 candidates, most of it since 2005. At 34, Moore, who was also paid a total of $110,000 as a senate aide to Andrews until this January, is now coordinating the congressional campaign out of his Visibility Consulting storefront headquarters at 1622 Bedford Avenue. Moore is an Andrews protégé put on the senate payroll in November 2001, four months before Andrews formally assumed the senate seat vacated by Marty Markowitz, who was elected borough president in 2001. Marty Connor, the senate Democratic leader then, said Andrews asked that Moore be hired.
Andrews's congressional committee has paid Moore $11,000 so far this year, and other candidates tied to Andrewsincluding Eric Adams, who's running for the senate seat Andrews is leaving; Karim Camara, who succeeded Norman in the assembly; and Dena Douglas, a Brooklyn civil court candidate have also retained him. Moore is running himself as well, trying to get elected Democratic district leader in Norman's old assembly district. When Norman was forced to resign that position as well last fall, Norman's co-leader Shirley Patterson nominated Moore to replace him, and the executive committee of Norman's countywide party instantly installed him. Moore, who was still on Andrews's senate payroll when he became district leader, says he told Andrews that "I thought I should be leader, and Carl said, 'You've earned it.' "
Cynthia Boyce, a black Harvard grad who, aided by her mother, loaned her own civil court campaign $110,000 last year, paid Moore $81,105 of the $155,755 she spent. She lost anyway, and told the Voice that it was Andrews who first recommended Moore. She met with Andrews early in the campaign and, right after he agreed to endorse her, he urged her to hire Moore. "Let me make it clear," Boyce remembers Andrews telling her, "you make your own decision," never connecting his own endorsement to Moore's hiring. Moore acknowledges that "Carl introduced me to Boyce," adding that he did the same with civil court candidate Bernard Graham in 2004, the first campaign Moore coordinated. Boyce says Moore "sincerely worked hard and was very visible," though she conceded that she did not know how Moore spent what she paid him, most of which was supposed to pay for a field operation. "It would be nice to have a better breakdown of the finances," she said.