Progressive PAC Looks to Sway City Elections Further Left

Screen Shot 2021-02-22 at 5.05.19 PM

Last Friday, marked the launch of another political money machine known as super PACS (Political Action Committees) as they race to back their respective candidates this election season.

The point of a PAC is to pool additional campaign contributions for a chosen candidate. PACS can give contributions directly to campaigns and act as independent expenditures, which aren’t allowed to coordinate with a candidate or campaign about money, said a Campaign Finance Board (CFB) spokesperson. 

Our City is an independent and progressive super PAC dedicated to “candidates who champion the policy outcomes demanded by grassroots movement groups across four key issue areas: public safety, housing, education, and recovery.” Their goal is to raise $3 to 5 million dollars for various boroughwide and citywide elections. 

“Elections should be about the challenges that we as working-class people are facing — not the agendas of private corporations who currently flood money into political campaigns in order to take the reins of our democracy and turn a profit,” said Senator Jabari Brisport (D-Fort Greene, Boerum Hill, Red Hook, Bedford-Stuyvesant, Sunset Park) in support of the PAC as a fellow progressive.

Brisport, like many others running for office this and last year, is a member of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA). The DSA is seen as fairly new and exceptionally progressive in Brooklyn, though legs of the organization itself do originally extend back to the 1960s and 70s civil rights and socialism movements

The organization has also previously taken stands highly critical of Israel, considering the Orthodox Jewish community is a sizable minority in the city, and endorsed the Palestinian-led BDS (Boycott, Divest and Sanction) movement.

“We count a wide range of movement groups as allies, of which DSA is absolutely one,” said Our City Director Gabe Tobias when asked by KCP.

Tobias did not confirm nor deny any stances on the DSA or the BDS when asked by KCP.

“On top of a devastating pandemic, New Yorkers are suffering from a feudal housing system, deeply segregated schools, and a failed, racist criminal justice system. A true recovery demands leaders with the courage, clarity, and competence to deliver transformational change,” said Tobias. 

Tobias is co-founder of Movement School and a former senior adviser to Justice Democrats, the group that helped U.S Rep Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY-14) get elected to Congress in 2018, reported The New York Times. Tobias also contributed to former President Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign.

The project is supported by a coalition of other progressive organizers, like Director of Strategy & Partnerships at Working Families Party Nelini Stamp. “After all the pain of this past year, we’re done with lip service, half measures, and ego politics. It’s time for our city to deliver the future that activists and organizers have spent decades fighting for,” said Stamp. 

“Elections matter and winning them costs money! Candidates like the ones we’ll be supporting are often at a profound disadvantage, precisely because they take positions on our four issues that echo the needs of their communities but displease the wealthy and well-connected,” said Tobias. 

Tobias said a super PAC, funded by right-leaning real estate billionaire Stephen Ross, spent over $200,000 in Queens’ most recent special elections, defeating a progressive candidate. 

CFB said it hasn’t reported any spending from PACS outside of Queen’s District 24 and District 31 elections and Bronx’s District 11 and 15 elections yet. 

Tobias said the PAC will definitely be supporting city council candidates, including in Brooklyn, but have not yet begun or announced those activities.