Surprise: Anti-Abortion & Anti Gay-Marriage Groups Are Uniting to Donate Lots of Money Against Gay City Council Candidates
One of City Action's anti-Torres mailers
The City Action Coalition is an assemblage of conservative religious groups, whose members mostly pop up to oppose abortion and hold rallies against legalizing gay marriage. But this election season, they've also quietly expanded into city politics, holding a mayoral candidate forum at Monroe College in April that Politicker gently described as "peculiar." And while City Action's stated platforms include "religious freedom" and "opposition to racial discrimination," in practice, their PAC, which has just five donors, is mostly throwing money at one thing: defeating three openly gay City Council candidates. They paid for the mailer above, which attacks Ritchie Torres, a 25-year-old candidate who lives in a supportive housing unit in the Bronx.
Paul Schindler at Gay City News was first to spot the group's expenditures, reporting Friday that City Action " has devoted roughly 60 percent of its spending" to defeat just three candidates: Rosie Mendez, the Lower East Side's incumbent, Carlos Menchaca, who's running in Brooklyn's District 38, and Torres, running in the Bronx's District 15. Guess what all three have in common.
Yep: all three candidates are not-straight, representing, as the City Action Coalition's chairman Joseph Mattera once wrote, the way LGBT people have "infiltrated and influenced the highest reaches of mainstream culture."
In his day job, Mattera is bishop of Brooklyn's Resurrection Church, and very concerned about gayness in all its forms; in 2011, during a rally against gay marriage, he fretted that if allowed to marry, gay people would "force the gay curriculum. It will come into the schools in greater measure." City Action's treasurer, Greg Pfundstein, is president of the Chiaroscuro Foundation, a high-profile anti-abortion group who were also loudly opposed sex ed and emergency contraception in New York's public schools.
According to the New York Campaign Finance Board's records, City Action's PAC has just five donors. The biggest name is Sean Fieler, who's president of a hedge fund called Equinox Partners. We last wrote about him during the presidential election, when he was a major donor to Restore Our Future, a super PAC set up to support Mitt Romney (remember him?). Fieler is also a huge donor to anti-gay marriage organizations like the National Organization for Marriage, donating over $1 million to them, according to a Reuters report. He told the New York Times earlier this year that his real opposition is to the "gay lifestyle," which does not, he said, lend itself to "monogamy, stability, health and parenting in the same way heterosexual relationships do."
Fieler has donated $170,000 of the PAC's money, or most of it: the other donors have given about $5,500 between them. With just one exception, none of them live in New York City. Fieler, though he works in New York, lives in Princeton, New Jersey. But that apparently hasn't stopped him and City Action's other PACers from taking a keen interest in these city council races. Very charitable of them.
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.