The city’s Campaign Finance Board (CFB), which is mandated to distribute taxpayer dollars to provide candidates, especially those lacking large donor and party backing the opportunity to run competitive races against insider political candidates, is being challenged on how only three of the eight candidates running in the open 45th Special election race have received public financing.
“Those funds make it easier for ordinary citizens to enter public life and run for office. With matching funds, candidates can run competitive campaigns even if they lack access to wealthy contributors, party bosses, lobbyists, or special interest groups. Hopeful candidates can build a viable campaign by relying on the support of their neighbors and constituents,” states the site.
But of the three candidates who received public financing, two including Monique Chandler-Waterman, who received $135,375, and Farah Louis, who received $135,375 in taxpayer dollars are the most politically connected in the race. The third candidate who received public funding was Adina Sash with $69,411.
Chandler-Waterman has the backing of Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, among several Central Brooklyn lawmakers, while Louis has the backing of Assemblywoman Rodneyse Bichotte (D-Ditmas Park, Flatbush), Kings County Democratic Party Boss Frank Seddio and high-powered Democratic Party Attorney Frank Calrone.
The announcement that only three candidates received matching funds was a surprise for some candidates who were expecting to be issued funds last week including candidate Jovia Radix.
“Of course, we expected to get funding,” said Radix. “We have been talking with the Campaign Finance Board and working diligently toward rectifying the things which they say are incorrect and prevented us from getting funds. We are working really hard to figure out what that is.”
Radix is one of five women remaining in the contentious race. Of the $27,705 she has raised so far, Radix is looking to get matching funds on $17,185 through the program’s option A, which matches funds $8-to $1. However, due to certain unspecified violations, Radix was unable to get a payment last week.
According to her CFB filing statements, her matching claims are across 276 donors with more than half of those donations, 153, being $50 or less.
The voluntary public financing program matches small-dollar contributions from individuals who reside in New York City, helping to amplify the voices of New Yorkers in city elections. A $10 contribution from an NYC resident to a participating candidate in the 2021 election could be worth as much as $90 to their campaign.
Also, shutout from public financing was longtime community activist and Community Board 17 member Xamayla Rose, who has steadily rolled out policy platforms and initiatives.
Rose has an estimated $11,903 in campaign funds, with a claim of $9,564 in public matching claims, which would give her $76,512 in public dollars to aid her campaign. Of Rose’s total monetary campaign contributions over 75% are contributions of $50 or less.
“We expect and are confident that we’ll get our matching funds very soon. And we’re grateful to our small donors who give what they can to support Xamayla for Progress. We’re fighting to represent District 45 which is a community that often lives paycheck to paycheck. We understand what each donation means and we’re running this people powered campaign for them,” said a representative from Xamayla Rose’s campaign.
A closer look at big money donors shows a huge discrepancy in relative big money donors for a working/middle-class district that highly favors Chandler-Waterman and Louis, who both received public matching dollars over the more grassroots candidates in the district.
Chandler-Waterman received $10,000 in four maximum $2,500 contributions and a total of $13,800 in contributions of $400 or more. Louis received a little more than $14,000 in contributions of $500 or more.
Rose did not receive any contributions over $500. Her largest contribution was $300.
There is a two-part threshold the candidates have to meet in order to receive matching funds: A) collect a minimum of 75 contributions within the district; B) raise a minimum of $5,000; C) Certify agreement to and demonstrate compliance with the requirements of the Act and Board Rules; D) be on the ballot, and have an opponent on the ballot; and E) submit a personal financial disclosure filing with the Conflicts of Interest Board
CFB couldn’t comment exactly on why these candidates were unable to receive public funds only claiming they didn’t meet the requirements according to William Fowler, spokesperson for NYC CFB.
The candidates that did not receive matching funds have a few days to correct invalid matching claims and may still receive matching funds on April 26. The next filing deadline is Friday, May 3 for candidates in the special election, which will also give them a final opportunity to receive matching funds before election day.
The special election will be held on May 14.