Barrett: More Unsavory Characters on Snyder's Campaign Money List
Yesterday, Wayne Barrett began to uncover the unsavory characters who have helped fuel Leslie Crocker Snyder's campaign to be the next Manhattan District Attorney. Now, in part two, Barrett continues that list, focusing this time on political conservatives who are backing Snyder...
Richard Gilder embodies activist city conservatives, co-founding both the Manhattan Institute and the Club for Growth, as well as bankrolling the State Conservative Party for years. A former business partner of George W. Bush's in the ownership of the Texas Rangers, Gilder gave Leslie Crocker Snyder $7,500 for her race for district attorney this year.
Gilder is one of several conservatives and Giuliani Republicans backing Snyder, who is now going out of her way to portray herself as a liberal Democrat in anticipation of next week's primary, moving away from the image of an ex-judge who entitled her memoir 25 to Life to a champion of alternatives to incarceration.
Stockbroker Gilder has gone from managing the money of Robert Novak, the conservative columnist who proudly dubbed himself the Prince of Darkness before his recent death, to funding Snyder, who once boasted about the "Princess of Darkness" tag that she says criminals gave her.
Heather MacDonald, who is the Manhattan Institute's font of wisdom on all things racial, is hardly as wealthy as Gilder, so all she could come up with for Snyder was $500. A mere journalist (most of us religiously avoid giving to any candidate), MacDonald, who writes for the Institute's City Journal, has turned blaming blacks for their own misery into a vocation. That's when she's not too busy carving up what she calls "the illegal alien lobby" (in her world, those who search for "excuses" for black "behavior" are branded "the race industry"). "I'll be ready to concede that 'race'" -- which she usually puts in quotes -- "remains a significant factor in social outcomes when the same proportion of black children as white children are raised in two-parent, married households without greatly lowering the black poverty rate." Until then, MacDonald, who delivered a 10 minute speech when I debated her years ago ascribing poverty in NYC to irresponsible black males having babies, "will remain skeptical" that black inequality is "the consequence of white Americans' atavistic bigotry."
Obviously, Gilder and MacDonald aren't buying the Snyder now being marketed by her campaign. MacDonald recognizes an intellectual comrade when she sees one, and Gilder seems to know that Snyder is one of them. The Manhattan Institute likes to claim that it was the incubator for Rudy Giuliani's police and welfare policies, though no one at the think tank has ever acknowledged any of the excesses of either. In that spirit, Snyder has also earned the support of several Rudy disciples.
Two of his relatives, Catherine Giuliani and Ray Casey, both of whom held significant posts in the Giuliani administration, made $250 contributions to Snyder. Catherine and her husband, Rudy S. Giuliani, a cousin of the former mayor's, run a small lobbying firm, J. Adams Consulting Inc., which added $1,000. Casey, another cousin, was installed as the head of the Off Track Betting Corporation by Giuliani before he stepped down, and Mike Bloomberg allowed him to remain there all these years, even though news reports indicate that it may soon file for bankruptcy. A recent state audit blasted the corporation for maintaining a fleet of 87 vehicles that cost an average of $6,700 annually to operate, with Casey and 21 other executives entitled to official cars.
Robert Strang, a former Drug Enforcement Administration agent who has been close to Giuliani since the early 80s, contributed $6,013 to Snyder, largely through security companies tied to him. On three separate occasions from June 2008 to April 2009, Strang made in-kind contributions to Snyder listed as "event costs," indicating that he was covering the costs of fundraisers for her campaign. On two of those occasions, he split the costs evenly for a fundraising event with attorney Kenneth Bloom, who donated $47,221 to Snyder (this tally includes him, his law firm, and another Bloom listed at the same address as him). Both Bloom and Strang made the maximum permissible donations to Giuliani's 2008 presidential campaign. Strang says that Bloom has "represented us over a couple of years" and that his security firm "works with their law firm."
In May, Strang's Investigative Management Group formed a "strategic relationship" with Giuliani Security & Safety, partially merging with the firm affiliated with Giuliani Partners that the former mayor created. Strang was a member of Giuliani's transition team when he became mayor, served as chair of a Giuliani taskforce on drug enforcement, and was an advisor to his Presidential Anti-Terrorism Advisory Board. He's also been a consultant to the New York State Senate Republicans.
Strang tells the Voice that he's known Snyder for 25 years, that they worked together on the board of a drug prevention program called DARE, and that her husband was the pediatrician for his son, who suffered from a brain aneurism when he was a child. A conservative Republican, especially on criminal justice issues, he is totally comfortable with Snyder, whom he knows so well that if she and her husband "are in his neighborhood for dinner, they would stop by and see us." Snyder wrote in her memoir that "Rudy Giuliani probably did more to reduce crime in New York City than anyone ever has," an arguable point, but one that she made without any caveats about his indifference to police abuse.
Snyder referred to indicted former police commissioner Bernie Kerik as her "old friend" in her memoir (she attended his 1998 wedding). Two people associated in news accounts with Kerik also contributed to Snyder--security company executive Robert Tucker ($4,650) and Raymond Casey, who was approached by Kerik on behalf of the mob-tainted company that paid for the renovations of Kerik's home when Casey was Giuliani's head of the Trade Waste Commission (these contacts were a factor in the criminal cases brought against Kerik). Tucker, who also gave $500 to a Snyder opponent Cy Vance, declined to answer Voice questions about how he got to know Snyder.
Two other major Giuliani donors--lawyer Robert Gold and businessman Larry Kinsella--gave $1,000 and $7,500, respectively, to Snyder. Another conservative donor, Brooklyn lawyer Roger Adler, gave a measly $100, but his contribution raises a larger question about the Synder effort. Adler is the father-in-law of Michael Tobman, the campaign strategist who ran Snyder's campaign in the early months and is a strategist for it now (paid $98,122 so far). Tobman ran Adler's unsuccessful and nasty campaign for a Brooklyn judgeship in 2008. Adler, a major contributor to the State Conservative Party, wrote the amicus brief that the party filed in Hernandez v Robles, a pivotal same-sex marriage case argued in 2006. "This case marks the 'high water mark' of a crusade of alternate values," Adler wrote, "by those unwilling to respect societal norms." Adler bemoaned the gay plaintiffs for insisting "upon judicial respect for a self-chosen nontraditional lifestyle."
In addition to Vance, Snyder is running against Richard Aborn in the September 15 primary.
Research assistance: Aaron Howell, Kate Rose, Amanda Sakuma, and Grace Smith.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you'll never miss Village Voice's biggest stories.