Top NY10 contenders take aim at Goldman over investments, campaign finance in debate

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City Council Member Carlina Rivera (top left), Dan Goldman, Assembly Member Jo Anne Simon, Assembly Member Yuh-Line Niou, U.S. Rep. Mondaire Jones and former Rep. Elizabeth Holtzman.
Photos courtesy of campaigns, illustration by Ethan Stark-Miller

The top candidates in the crowded field vying to represent the recently reconfigured 10th Congressional District piled on Dan Goldman for his investments and campaign donations during the second debate in the run up to the Aug. 23 primary Wednesday night.

Opponents attacked Goldman, who served as lead counsel in the first impeachment trial of ex-President Donald Trump and a wealthy heir to the Levi Strauss and Co. fortune, over his investments in News Corp. – the parent company of right-wing Fox News. Plus, a $25 to $50 million line of credit he’s taken out with Goldman Sachs.

Five other top contenders in the 13-person field were invited to the debate – hosted by NY1 Anchor Erroll Lewis and WNYC/Gothamist Senior Reporter Brigid Bergin – including City Council Member Carlina Rivera (D-Manhattan), U.S. Rep. Mondiare Jones (D-Rockland, Westchester Counties), former U.S. Rep. Elizabeth Holtzman and Assembly Members Yuh-Line Niou (D-Manhattan) and Jo Anne Simon (D-Brooklyn).

During a portion of the debate where candidates asked one another questions, Jones grilled Goldman on his investments in Fox and the firearms manufacturer Sturm, Ruger & Co..

“Your FEC financial disclosure shows that you have investments in Fox News, the largest disinformation machine this country has ever seen, as well as in a company called Ruger which manufactures AR15. assault weapons, which have at times been used in mass shootings, as this nation faces a gun violence epidemic,” Jones said. “Will you apologize tonight to the victims of your investments?”

Goldman defended his investments, saying they were made through a blind trust – during his time as an assistant U.S. attorney a few years back – and he would do the same again if elected. He also pointed to his work taking down gun traffickers and “protecting democracy” as a federal prosecutor.

“The fact of the matter is I have spent my entire career in public service, taking down gun traffickers, fighting against corrupt individuals, being a strong advocate for anti-corruption, and then obviously being in the trenches protecting and defending our democracy,” Goldman said. “So whatever you want to reference, I was in a blind trust with all my money when I was a prosecutor. I will put my money in a blind trust as a congress person.”

Rivera (D-Manhattan) also piled on, calling Goldman “a walking campaign finance loophole. You are essentially trying to buy this election,” she added.

But the debate moderators also turned to Rivera, asking her about her own questionable campaign finance practices. The sitting council member was asked about her congressional campaign accepting donations from real estate interests and lobbyists with business before the city that she wouldn’t have been able to accept as a city council candidate. And how she’d respond to critics who say these donations could influence her decision making on the council.

Rivera, a former housing advocate, said she’s not under the influence of real estate interests and has a strong record of fighting for tenant protections both at the city and state levels, where she recently advocated for the passage of the failed Good Cause Eviction legislation.

“My record on standing up to the real estate industry is clear,” Rivera said. “I’ve taken on big interests that pass legislation around tenant protections, and I supported legislation at the state level for Good Cause. This neighborhood, this community, this district, they know they know who I am, and they know that housing specifically has been such a core issue not just in my career, but that is something that has directly influenced my life.”

The six candidates also traded barbs over their connections to the district, which includes much of lower Manhattan below 14th Street and Brooklyn neighborhoods from Park Slope to Sunset Park. Jones received the bulk of the attacks, having recently relocated to Carroll Gardens in Brooklyn from suburbs just north of the city he currently represents.

Throughout the evening, Goldman repeatedly took aim at Jones’ tenuous connection to the district by mockingly calling him “the gentleman from Rockland.” In response, Jones revisited a familiar defense, that he has a strong connection to the district as a Black gay man who became comfortable with his queer identity living in Greenwich Village.

“I am the person I am today because of the time that I spent in the Village for example, gaining the courage to live an authentic life from the example of being with other queer people of color who were living openly and authentically themselves,” Jones said. “I have worked in this district. I live in this district. And most important of all, I’m the person on this stage who’s been fighting in Congress already, delivering for this district.”

The candidates debated a litany of other issues central to the district and Congress’ responsibilities, including how they’d handle fixing the dilapidated Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, their approach to immigration policy and where they stand on a proposal to build a building with 100 percent affordable units at the Five World Trade Center site.

Early voting for the Aug. 23 primary begins this Saturday, Aug. 13.