By Steve Mosco
Republican candidates looking to unseat state Sen. Joseph Addabbo are ratcheting up their efforts as they each vie to wrestle away their party’s nomination.
Forest Hills lawyer Juan Reyes and City Councilman Eric Ulrich (R-Ozone Park) exchanged barbs last week as both camps continued gearing up for the Republican Party primary set for this September.
The winner of the primary will face Sen. Joseph Addabbo (D-Howard Beach) in November.
The GOP-endorsed Reyes issued a statement questioning Ulrich’s judgment for associating with John Haggerty, a political consultant convicted last October of stealing money from the re-election campaign of Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
Reyes charged that Haggerty showed up at the city Board of Elections to submit petition signatures on behalf of Ulrich.
“It is profoundly disturbing that Councilman Eric Ulrich not only continues to associate with a known felon, but continues to allow convicted criminal John Haggerty to serve in critical roles in his campaign for state Senate,” said Reyes. “[Ulrich must] explain his ongoing ties with this convicted felon and explain why he continues to allow him a leadership role in his campaign for state Senate.”
Haggerty was convicted on six felony counts in stealing $750,000 from Bloomberg’s campaign in 2009. He was sentenced in December to 1 1/3 to four years in prison and remains free pending appeal. His brother Bart recently left his post as Ulrich’s Council chief of staff.
“Part of the district attorney’s investigation of Haggerty and his conviction related to Haggerty producing fraudulent campaign instruments,” said Reyes. “What does it say about Eric Ulrich’s judgment that he would have a convict handle important campaign-related legal documents?”
Ulrich’s campaign chose a different method to fire back, stating the councilman’s team prefers to focus on the support it has garnered rather than comment on Haggerty’s alleged involvement with the petition signatures.
“This past week has been a great one for our campaign,” said Ulrich spokeswoman Jessica Proud. “We were extremely pleased to file over 3,000 signatures to get on the ballot, in addition to reporting that we’ve raised over $400,000 this period and we’re entirely focused on the groundswell of support we’re receiving, rather than baseless attacks that try to distract from our campaign’s successes.”
The Republican lawyer’s criticism of Haggerty’s involvement with Ulrich comes on the heels of a complaint filed by Reyes June 13 with the 112th Precinct. Reyes reported to officers that vandals had targeted his home on the night of his first campaign fund-raiser. A welcome mat was stolen and a box of plastic forks was dumped on the front lawn, according to the complaint.
Reyes also recently charged that Haggerty was tasked with personally collecting donor checks at Ulrich’s latest political fund-raiser.
Ulrich’s campaign declined to comment specifically on Haggerty’s involvement with the campaign.
Reach reporter Steve Mosco by e-mail at [email protected] or by phone at 718-260-4546.