“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 out—endorsing Andrews with great fanfare—no 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 19–25), 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 agent—including four years as Spitzer’s director of intergovernmental operations—totals 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 Andrews—including 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.
In 2005, Moore was also paid $20,000 by Diana Johnson, a Supreme Court judge running for surrogate; $56,142 by another civil court candidate, Norma Jennings; $3,000 by district attorney candidate John Sampson; $30,000 by mayoral candidate Gifford Miller; and $74,450 by City Council candidate Letitia James. All but James lost, and most of them had hired Moore before he even incorporated his fledgling firm in June. Moore was also paid $11,150 by Norman’s assembly committee, and even got $3,375 from Mark Green’s 2001 mayoral campaign. Another $245,000 payment that Green simultaneously made to Norman’s club is still the subject of a Hynes grand jury probe, though Green has personally been cleared of any charges.
“I consider Carl a friend, I consider Clarence a friend,” Moore says. “I’m thankful for what Clarence did for the community.” Moore cited his work for Jennings, however, as an example of his independence, claiming that Andrews and Norman supported Sylvia Ash, who defeated Jennings last year. Actually, Norman and the Brooklyn party remained neutral in the race, while Andrews’s support of Ash was nominal. Pressed by the Voice about whether he discussed his Jennings work with Andrews before signing on, Moore said he did. “He told me, ‘God bless you. Good luck.’ ”
Moore produced a book of one-page sign-in sheets verifying that he paid nearly a hundred campaign workers small sums in 2005, but the records did not indicate what candidate they were working for or contain an overall tally. There was also no record deducting the wages paid from the total Moore received, so it was impossible to determine what his profit was. He estimated it at a meager $10,000 to $15,000, insisting that he hired too many workers. He’s doubled the size of his storefront recently and says he expects to do much better in 2006.
The Moore largesse is part of a pattern of massive payments by many campaigns over the years to Norman and Andrews affiliates—including $93,000 in payments to Tahaka Robinson by a judicial candidate in 2005 who had no opponent, $153,610 in 2001 to longtime aide Jackie Ward from Mark Green and other campaigns, and $70,530 to Boone, who was the district leader before Norman and Moore. Hynes’s office has investigated this payment history, which started with Andrews himself, but not charged anyone. Jack Newfield reported in the Sun in 2003 that three judges told Hynes’s office they “felt coerced” into making payments to Norman associates, including Boone. One judge who paid Boone $9,000 did so after she received a proposal faxed from Andrews’s senate office. Boone reportedly did nothing for the get-out-the-vote fee. The Post reported that prosecutors have determined that Norman’s personal bank account recorded up to $50,000 a year in unexplained cash deposits for five years—which the paper called “possible kickback money from judges or party operatives who got lucrative campaign business.”
Andrews, who acknowledged that he’d recommended Moore to Letitia James and others, suggested that the media and prosecutorial questions about this hiring history were racist. “When blacks do it, it seems like it’s something illegal, something wrong,” he said, pointing to a white political operative active in Brooklyn reform politics, Gary Tilzer, and saying, “No one says anything when he does it.” Tilzer, who managed the successful campaign of surrogate candidate Margarita Lopez-Torres last year, earned a total of $28,000 from her campaign and three others. He is so underpaid he is known by the shirt he always wears. Lopez-Torres, who was blacklisted by Norman because she refused to hire an unqualified law secretary he sent her, was the plaintiff in a federal suit that recently overturned the way judges are selected statewide.
When the Voice dropped in at Moore’s office one recent evening, Norman and Jackie Ward were among the four people there, with Norman actually sitting next to a desk marked “State Senator Carl Andrews.” Norman stood up, declared he had just “stopped by” and “was no longer involved in politics,” and left, standing in front of the headquarters long enough to send two young women inside looking for jobs. Ward left her $80,000-a-year job with Comptroller Thompson when her name kept popping up in news stories during Hynes’s 2003 probe of Norman.
Asked about the $70,000 he’s loaned his congressional campaign this year, Andrews denied that he had that much in savings or that he’d mortgaged the Crown Street home he bought in 2004 for $400,000. “There’s a lot of other loans you can get,” he said, specifying equity loans. In fact, his senate financial disclosure statements indicate he took out a loan of an undisclosed amount in 2005, and he took out a $75,000 line of credit through a Pennsylvania fast-loan shop on his home this January. The problem is that if he financed the loans he made to his campaign by borrowing it himself, he violated federal election law by not disclosing the terms of his personal loans in filings with the Federal Election Commission.
Andrews has never had the lavish lifestyle of Norman, who owns both a gold Lincoln Continental and a Mercedes, but Andrews, too, once had a Mercedes, and his home has nearly doubled in assessed value in two years. He also owns six other properties, four in South Carolina and two in Brooklyn. He claimed in a Voice interview that he’d never “hit a home run” in the 46 receiverships he received from Norman-connected judges, saying his largest commission was $25,000. Actually, he was paid $87,750 on a receivership involving two Fulton Street commercial properties and tried to evict a half-dozen stores, employing many people, but was blocked in court.
Research assistance: Alex Altman, Brian Colgan, Matt Foglino, Alicia Lozano, Mordy Shinefield, and Gina Vasselli