Queens BP Race Costing Taxpayers Nearly $1 Million So Far

Queens Borough President Candidates Joann Ariola, City Councilmember Donovan Richards and Dao Yin (photos from campaign websites)

The city paid out more than $700k in public matching funds yesterday to the candidates running for Queens Borough President in the general election according to the New York City Campaign Finance Board (CFB).

The Oct. 8 dispersal was the third payment to the candidates ––  City Councilmember Donovan Richards, Queens County Republican Party Chairwoman Joann Ariola and businessman Dao Yin –– since August and was the biggest payment of public matching funds in the race to date. 

So far, the city has shelled out nearly $1 million for the election.  

The CFB’s public matching fund program is an optional program designed to encourage smaller donations in campaign fundraising by New York City residents rather than large donations from special interest groups. Candidates who opt in receive $8 from the city’s coffer for every qualifying dollar raised. 

The dispersed funds for this round had more than a half a million spread between the highest earning candidate and the lowest. 

Ariola, the Republican candidate for Queens Borough President, received the most public funds in the Oct. 8 dispersal with a payment of $533,794. It was her first payment of public funds so far in the race. According to the CFB, Ariola has an estimated balance of $494,475 left between her private and public funds.

Ariola’s campaign did not respond to requests for comment for this story.

On the other hand, Richards, the Democratic candidate received a mere $13,689 in the most recent dispersal. While he is the only candidate to have received three rounds of public funding, he is also the candidate to have raised the least through the program. In all, he’s received $64,637 in public matching funds for the November general election. According to the CFB, Richards has an estimated balance of $55,891 left over in his campaign chest.

Richards’ campaign did not respond to requests for comment for this story. 

Finally, independent candidate Dao Yin received a payment of $169,489. So far he’s received $344,885 in public funds between the September and October dispersal. Yin has an estimated $242,297 in campaign funds left according to the CFB.

Yin, who ran unsuccessfully in the June Democratic Primary, is running on the Red Dragon line in the November election. Campaign Manager Michael Olmeda said that the money will be spent on fliers and messaging about getting out the vote as well as his three main issues: public safety, education and COVID-19. 

The most disclosure deadline for the candidates was on Oct. 2. The next deadline is Oct. 23. 

According to the CFB, candidates must raise at least $44,614 from at least 100 different Queens residents. Each contribution must be between $10 and $175. Donations over $175 will be eligible for only $175 of the total donation. If they achieve those thresholds, the city will match their eligible contributions $8-to-$1.

Last June, the city paid out more than $4 million in public matching funds to the six candidates running for Queens Borough President in the primary.

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