Truman Club and its candidates continue to violate campaign finance laws

Candidates for Democratic District Leaders with ties to Sheldon Silver continue to violate campaign finance laws by failing to disclose political contributions and expenses as required by state law.

Last month the New York Post reported that the Truman Democratic Club and its candidates had not filed financial disclosure forms for at least 18 years, despite clear legal requirements to do so. Disclosures of expenses from other candidates who have attended Truman Club fundraisers show evidence of more than $91,000 amassed by the Truman Club. But since private donors and corporations do not disclose their donations, the Truman Club is likely hiding hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Subsequent to that report, District Leader Karen Blatt registered a re-election committee with the Board of Elections. This week Committee to Re-elect Blatt disclosed a single in-kind contribution from the Truman Club for $1,689.25, which is above the $1,000 legal limit for contributions in this race. Blatt, who was appointed by Sheldon Silver to her position as co-executive director of the Legislative Task Force on Demographic Research and Appointment, also ran for office in 2015 without making any financial disclosures.

Jacob Goldman, a local real estate agent also running for District Leader with support from the Truman Club, waited until after financial disclosures were due to register with the New York State Board of Elections, despite participating publicly in fundraising activities and distributing printed campaign material during the past three months.

NY1 reported this month that Judy Rapfogel, Sheldon Silver’s former chief of staff, who was “considered Silver’s enforcer and gatekeeper in Albany,” “has been very active and is currently involved in the race for district leader.”

An official complaint has been filed with the New York State Board of Elections Division of Election Law Enforcement, asking that an investigation of the Truman Club’s finances commence immediately. The complaint said, “Voters have the right to know who is supporting political activity in our neighborhood, and how that money is being spent.”

District Leader candidate Lee Berman said, “When you ask your neighbors for their votes, you have to start by following the law. You’d think after Silver’s convictions, even the Truman Club would get that. Instead, their candidates continue to act as though the law does not apply to them.”

Caroline Laskow, also running for District Leader, added, “As a first-time candidate, I made sure to register with the state and file proper financial disclosures. Why wouldn’t the incumbents do the same? What are they spending all that money on?”