Vito dumps treasurer following FBI probe – Former Fossella staffer under investigation

By Thomas Tracy

Roughly a week after they announced their most recent fundraising report, the Committee to Re-elect Vito Fossella has discharged their campaign treasurer, who is now a target of an FBI criminal investigation. According to published reports, Chris Ward is currently being questioned about alleged financial irregularities while he served with the National Republican Congressional Committee. Since then, he has been the campaign treasurer for Rep. Fossella, as well as Rodney Alexander of Louisiana and Illinois Republican candidates Tim Baldermann and Aaron Schock. When contacted by this newspaper, Georgia Kay, a spokesperson for Committee to Re-Elect Vito Fossella, said, “We have severed ties with this vendor as of last week and have hired a new accounting firm.” It’s not believed that the allegations against Ward have any connection to his role with Fossella’s campaign, which raised more than $700,000 to date for the 2008 election. Campaign staffers said that Fossella has $700,967 and $250,000 on hand. “We had a very successful fourth quarter to complete another productive fundraising year,” said Fossella, adding that his “fundraising success is reflective of the widespread support we enjoy in Staten Island and Brooklyn.” Filings show that Fossella has raised about $300,000 in the last quarter. Keeping pace is City Councilmember Domenic Recchia, who, although he hasn’t officially announced that he is running to unseat Fossella in the 13th Congressional District, announced that he has raised $220,000 in the last quarter, which was, in essence, the first quarter for the campaign. The lion’s share of Recchia’s campaign donations came from Brooklyn, especially Coney Island and Bensonhurst. Donors include Community Board 13 District Manager Charles Reichenthal, Brighton Neighborhood Association Executive Director Pat Singer, as well as the Brooklyn Chinese American Association and the Russian American Circus. Recchia’s campaign also shows federal PAC (political action committee) groups, including Jerry’s PAC, which has ties to Brooklyn Rep. Jerry Nadler, which gave $2000, and AmeriPAC, which gave $2,500. AmeriPAC is led by U.S. Congress Majority Leader Steny Hoyer. “I have been talking to people throughout Staten Island and Brooklyn and I have heard an overwhelming hunger for change,” Recchia said in a statement. “This early support for my campaign shows just how eager people are to fight for a new direction in our community.” Brooklyn attorney and former Community Board 10 chair Steven Harrison announced last week that he has raised over $106,000 in his second run against Fossella. The figure shows that he’s expected to surpass the $130,000 he raised during his 2006 run. Harrison, like Recchia, has PAC money, but of a different type – his comes from ActBlue, a Democratic party PAC that considers itself the “eBay of online fund raising.” Daniel Kadin of Daniel Kadin Associates, the fundraising group for Harrison’s candidacy, said that the on-line donations show that the Brooklynite has a lot of grassroots support. “Harrison is doing very well in the grassroots sphere,” said Kadin. “As the election draws near, the on-line crew becomes more active. Solidly progressive candidates like Steve do very well in that world.” Over 60 percent of Harrison’s donations came from the 13th Congressional District and were “split about evenly between Brooklyn and Staten Island,” Kadin said.

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