A super Political Action Committee (PAC) of realtors backed candidate John Quaglione (R) in Brooklyn’s 43rd council one week before the general election.
The super PAC, Progress Now New York Inc., includes the powerful Real Estate Board of New York PAC (REBNY) and names Quaglione as the favored Independence Party candidate in a mailing sent to voters in the district.
“These mailers truly show what’s at stake in this election,” said Justin Brannan, his Democratic opponent. “Wealthy special interests and big developers have made it clear they’re supporting a Trump Republican who has tried to decimate rent control and will support overdevelopment of our neighborhood.”
The bedroom community has long resisted large developers seeking to build high rises in the area. As early as last year, Community Board 10 which represents residents in Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights and Ft. Hamilton, fought to reverse a zoning law that allowed residents to expand on their one- and two-family homes.
“This Super PAC is funded by corporations and individuals who want to see towers and skyscrapers built in Bay Ridge, destroying our quality of life and completely changing the landscape of our neighborhoods,” said City Councilmember Vincent Gentile (D-Bay Ridge, Bensonhurst, Dyker Heights, Bath Beach), who employed Brannan in his office for a number of years.
Quaglione, who has worked for State Sen. Marty Golden (R-Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights, Marine Park, Gerritsen Beach) for nearly two decades, denied knowing about the flyer as well as its origins.
“I have no idea and no knowledge of any groups doing any such activities,” said Quaglione when asked about the flyers distributed by the super PAC. “To do so would break the law.”
As per campaign finance law, super PACs are prohibited to donate directly to candidates or parties and can only articulate their support through independent expenditures.
It is not clear how much the PAC contributed to the mailer because there is no record of the listing on the city’s Campaign Finance Board yet. The New York State’s Board of Elections has listed the funding on their site, but doesn’t give a dollar figure on how much was spent on the mailing.
However, the same super PAC spent $8,240 on a similar flyer campaign for two other city council candidates, Councilmember elect Mark Gjonaj of the 13th district in the Bronx and Henry Butler’s unsuccessful attempt in Brooklyn’s 41st district.
Quaglione also criticized Brannan about ties to Mayor Bill de Blasio and his past campaign finance indiscretions.
“My opponent has been assisted by groups whose activities were part of the de Blasio campaign finance violation investigation,” said Quaglione.