Weprin camp owes $350K for ‘09 race

Weprin camp owes $350K for ‘09 race
Photo by Christina Santucci
By Phil Corso

State Assemblyman David Weprin (D-Little Neck) personally owes more than $28,000 in penalties while his former campaign committee must repay $325,561 in public funds after the city Campaign Finance Board reported several violations from his 2009 run for city comptroller.

According to the CFB, Weprin was personally responsible for paying $28,184 in total penalties resulting from 11 violations ranging from accepting contributions from unregistered political committees to failing to prove that some spending was connected to his campaign.

The assemblyman has promised to repay the money, according to Weprin spokeswoman Jennifer Berkley, who was not affiliated with the 2009 campaign committee, which has long since dissolved.

Berkley said Weprin accepted the violations as legitimate fines and believes in the city’s campaign finance program.

“He will figure out a way to pay that back over the course of time,” Berkley said. “David really commends this program and thinks it is great for the city and should be a model for statewide candidates, potentially.”

The violations that Weprin was found guilty of included accepting corporate contributions in the 2009 election, making improper post-election expenditures and accepting contributions over the $4,950 limit. The CFB found a total of 11 violations, which tallied up to the more than $28,000 Weprin faces in penalties.

The CFB said Weprin’s campaign accepted corporate contributions for which refunds were reported from Standard Realty Associates ($100); T&H Store Fixtures ($750); Orlow, Orlow and Orlow PC ($200); the Baylor Premier Agency ($1,000); and P&M Contracting Co. ($250).

According to the CFB, the penalty was noted because city campaigns may not accept any contributions from corporations.

The campaign also accepted a total of 31 contributions from groups, including Silvercup Studios Associates of Long Island City, which exceeded the money limit, the CFB said. Thirty of those contributions were refunded following the CFB’s notification, the group said.

“We expect that the people of New York have invested their taxpayer money in making sure the elections in the city work,” said CFB spokesman Matthew Sollars. “We are entrusting the candidates with taxpayer money to run their campaigns and we expect them to use those funds properly and account for them properly.”

The CFB also found that Weprin’s 2009 campaign committee must repay $325,561 of the $928,771 it collected in public funds.

According to Sollars, a segregated account intended for expenses unrelated to Weprin’s campaign failed to accurately record the amount of money it raised and spent, bringing the CFB to the $325,561.

The money could be repaid by any future campaign committees that Weprin might establish, Sollars said. The CFB matches every dollar a city resident contributes with $6 in public funds.

“We audit every campaign and the campaign for Mr. Weprin took a significant amount of public financing in the 2009 election cycle,” Sollars said. “We take great care when we are handing out public funds to make sure they are used and accounted for properly by the campaigns.”

If the public money is not reimbursed, Sollars said Weprin would not be eligible to participate in the matching of public funds in any future runs for elected city office.

Weprin received the fewest votes in a September 2009 Democratic primary vote for comptroller behind current Comptroller John Liu and challengers Melinda Katz and David Yassky.

Reach reporter Phil Corso by e-mail at pcorso@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4573.

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