By Joe Anuta
Former U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner resigned from his congressional seat in June, but he still controls a mountain of money amassed from donations from his multiple mayoral runs.
Weiner’s war chest now contains about $4.8 million, according to records from the city Campaign Finance Board raised from 2007-09, which the disgraced congressman was widely expected to use for a 2013 run. And according to the board, he has not officially dropped out of the race.
“As far as the paperwork on file with our agency is concerned, he is still an active candidate for 2013,” said Eric Friedman, spokesman for the board.
Weiner has several options for how to spend the money, but he is forbidden from putting it toward personal use.
He could donate the money to charity, give it back to his contributors or use it to make donations to political campaigns.
Weiner could also use it for political functions, such as buying tickets to fund-raising dinners, or could fund independent ad campaigns for or against other politicians.
But any expenditures he makes would have to be reported to the board and made public, Friedman said.
Weiner has several options of what he could legally do with the money, but Barbara Bartoletti, legislative director of the New York State League of Women Voters, said her organization recommends only two.
“Our position has always been people who are no longer elected officials or not longer running for office, in particular if it’s a disruption in the term, should be returning the campaign donation to the people … or it should be given to a charity.”
Since the money was donated with the hopes of getting a political message out via a particular candidate, Bartoletti said the money should not be used to influence other elections, which might not have been the donor’s original intent.
Bartoletti cited an example of an upstate politician who she said used campaign donations from a political run after he became a lobbyist, footing the bill for political events and dinners, which is also a legal use.
But there is still another option for Weiner: He could do nothing with it.
Weiner is required to alert the board by June 2013, the next election year, whether he will drop out of the race. Other than that, Weiner does not need to make any decisions.
“There is no requirement,” Friedman said. “And the next election is still more than two years out.”
Weiner’s career, first as a city councilman and then a seven-term congressman, took a nosedive in early June, when allegations that he sexted a young college student captured headlines around the world.
On June 16, Weiner gave a curt news conference announcing his resignation.
But a political insider said he has no doubt that Weiner will run for office again in the future, and that those millions could come in handy.
Weiner himself might not even know what he will run for, the source said, but the former congressman’s young age and political acumen paired with New Yorkers’ forgiving nature means that congressman could find himself in political office once again.
Although the money is currently in a race for a city office, it would be possible for Weiner to transfer it for either a state or federal race.
Reach reporter Joe Anuta by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4566.