(Update: Dan Levitan of WFP has something to say about the “discounts,” below the fold.) We’ve mentioned Data and Field Services, the election support outfit that was criticized by the Campaign Finance Board for giving discounts — essentially in-kind contributions — to Working Families Party candidates, who are usually also Democrats. A couple of local candidates have been implicated in the controversy, which never got past the warning stage — until this week: A lawsuit by former Giuliani deputy mayor Randy Mastro focuses on the DFS involvement of Debi Rose, who beat Ken Mitchell for the Staten Island Democratic council nomination in September.
Mastro represents five Staten Island voters who claim their voting rights were injured by the discount services DFS provided Rose during the primary campaign. A Mastro colleague, Jake Menges, claims Rose paid only half what those services were worth. Liz Benjamin, among others, discovers that late payments by Rose brought her spending with DFS up to twice the sum Menges named, which would seem to make things more or less even-steven. “The lawsuit is baseless and fraught with error,” says the WFP’s Dan Levitan…
The Post notices this too, but allows Mastro to respond that the payments that compensated the shortfall came well after the primary, and that “something doesn’t add up.”
The Post also sidebars on the WFP’s connection to ACORN, a popular conservative bugbear, which excites the faithful. “Look what Scozzafava’s favorite ACORN front group is up to now,” says Michelle Malkin, referring to the NY-23 Republican who has been targeted by the right for insufficient adherence to doctrine.
“Week before election, legal woes for North Shore Democratic candidate Debi Rose,” says the Staten Island Advance, exciting numerous comments about ACORN and Rose (“al sharton, charles rangel and debi rose perfect together”). Ken Mitchell remains on the ballot on the Conservative Party line; though he has said he’s not actively campaigning, maybe this could be the spark of a new national conservative movement, like the one boosting Doug Hoffman in NY-23, to elevate him. The low-spending Republican candidate is Timothy Kuhn.
Update: Dan Levitan reminds us that while the Campaign Finance Board “noted that DFS and the WFP work closely together… they have never found (or criticized, or said in any form) that we were giving our candidates discounts as your lede suggests… In fact, they continued to give all of our candidates public matching funds throughout the campaign, something they don’t normally do when they have evidence that someone is skirting their rules.”
In its September statement, the Board said, “it is the Board’s understanding that DFS exists as an arm of the Working Families Party… In light of the close affiliation, the Board presumes that any activity undertaken by the Working Families Party on behalf of campaigns using DFS as a vendor is non-independent. Therefore, these activities must be reported and accounted for by campaigns as either an
in-kind contribution from the Working Families Party or an expenditure.”
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on October 27, 2009