You’ve never heard of Sal Albanese? It’s his third time running for mayor, but the 63-year-old candidate, who is no stranger to calling out politicians on their bullshit, has generally maintained a lower profile than his fellow candidates in this race. Part of it’s because Albanese is one oddly principled guy–the former city councilman from Bay Ridge refuses to take contributions from “special interests,” regularly stands apart from party lines, and dropped out of the 2000 race because he didn’t raise enough funds. He’s also a progressive’s progressive, having sponsored New York City’s original living wage bill, and putting LGBT rights on his agenda long before it became acceptable to “evolve” on the issue.
In 2013, it seems Albanese’s re-entry to politics has cast him as the mayoral race’s internal auditor. On Monday, Albanese accused Christine Quinn, John Liu, and Bill de Blasio of using taxpayer funds to hire political operatives for their respective campaigns in the last 18 months–a total he says comes to $1.7 million.
Both Quinn and de Blasio have shot down similar claims before. De Blasio told the New York Times earlier this month that the nine staff members Albanese says were hired for political reasons all had considerable government experience. Quinn has also argued that her hires were necessary to “our functions as the legislative body of the City of New York.” Liu did not respond for comment.
This is not the first, nor will it likely be the last time that Albanese acts the pebble in his more recognizable competitors’ shoes. He has a record of raising some hell under Giuliani, and has characterized de Blasio’s actions as “pandering” at another mayoral forum.
“Last time I checked, running for mayor was not in the job description of the speaker, the public advocate, or the comptroller,” Albanese said. “Yet they have used their positions to force taxpayers to foot the bill for their political ambitions.”