46 AD Race: Harris Releases Open Letter Explaining Financial Woes

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Assembly Member Pamela Harris

Assemblywoman Pam Harris (Coney Island, Bay Ridge) yesterday released an open letter to the media explaining bankruptcy filings on ill health and Superstorm Sandy.

The letter follows an explosive Daily News Story Monday that found her and her husband, Leon, owe more than $30,000 in back taxes as part of 2013 bankruptcy filings and are facing foreclosure on their Coney Island home.

It also comes among continuing allegations that she receives money for rent from the non-profit, Coney Island Generation Gap, she founded and which still uses space in her home.

Assembly Member Pamela Harris
Assembly Member Pamela Harris

“In 2006, I received the traumatic news that I had developed breast cancer. Just three short weeks later, our family was once again blindsided as my mother was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Together, the cost of health care for our family was astronomical – but still, we were determined to push through,” wrote Harris.

“In the following years, I underwent three major surgeries that ultimately resulted in the removal of my right breast. My body initially rejected the procedure, I was sick for months and, if it were not for the services of the wonderful, caring and experienced staff at Saint Vincent’s Comprehensive Cancer Center, I may not have survived.

“Unfortunately, though, the worst wasn’t over for my family. In 2012, my husband Leon was employed as a boiler mechanic when he was seriously injured on the job, leaving him unable to work and severely impacting our household income. Not long after, Superstorm Sandy devastated our community and destroyed the modest Coney Island home that we own.”

Harris wrote that left with no other options after so many brutal financial hits, she and her husband made the difficult decision to declare Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Since filing, Harris said she and her husband made payments on their mortgage and to many creditors.

But questions remain regarding CIGG.

According to IRS filings for the non-profit, it paid $26,000 on “occupancy, rent, utilities and maintenance,” but Harris maintains that that CIGG has never paid her rent for the space they utilize in their home.

Harris did report in her 2015 campaign finance disclosure forms receiving between $5,000-$20,000 in rent related income, but said it came from a tenant not related to CIGG.

“To be clear, not once have we received rent, compensation or financial assistance of any kind from CIGG, and for further clarification, any rent that we currently receive is from a tenant in a unit of our building who is in no way affiliated with CIGG,” Harris wrote.

The bombshell Daily News story comes as Harris is locked in a bitter battle against Kate Cucco in the Sept. 13 primary election for the seat.

The Cucco slate includes Chris McCreight and Brigitte Purvis for the district leader positions. The Harris slate includes City Councilman Mark Treyger and Dilia Schack for the District Leader positions.

Cucco, who served as chief of staff for former Assemblyman Alex Brook-Krasny, had no comment about Harris’ woes.

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