By Rich Bockmann
It’s not the Cold Spring Country Club on Long Island, but federally indicted state Sen. Malcolm Smith (D-Hollis) is hoping a virtual golf game will help fill a campaign well that has nearly run dry.
Smith, who was arrested by the FBI about a year ago on corruption charges, has set up a “virtual golf outing” that invites supporters to send “contributions, commitment & good wishes” — or good, old-fashioned cash — to his re-election effort.
Before the ambitious Senate Democrat was arrested in an alleged plot to buy Republican leaders’ support for his mayoral run on the GOP ticket, Smith was a prolific fund-raiser who held an annual golf outing at the tony Cold Spring Country Club in Huntington.
This year’s fete, however, is somewhat pared down.
The invitation on Smith’s campaign website gives only a date and time, March 24 from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., and directions on how to make contributions at three different levels: $100 for a teesign/friend, $250 for a twosome/host or $500 for a foursome/sponsor.
Smith’s trial is scheduled to begin June 2. The seven-term Albany lawmaker had asked to have the proceedings postponed until later in the year so as not to interfere with his re-election efforts, but Judge Kenneth Karas, who sits in White Plains federal court, shot down the request.
Challengers are already lining up to take on Smith, who was booted from the Independent Democratic Conference and removed from his committee appointments after his arrest.
Clyde Vanel, an intellectual property attorney from Cambria Heights, has loaned himself $100,000 to mount a run at the District 14 seat, which covers Laurelton, Cambria Heights, St. Albans, Hollis and parts of Jamaica, Queens Village, Hillcrest, Briarwood, Jamaica Estates and Richmond Hill.
Munir Avery, a Democratic Party election lawyer from Hillcrest, has also thrown his hat into the ring. Deputy Borough President Leroy Comrie, who represented the heart of the district through three terms on the City Council, is also rumored to be interested in the city and would be a strong favorite, but has not yet publicly commented on a run.
Smith has a history of raising and spending vast amounts of money — even when running unopposed — but has struggled to fill his war chest since his arrest.
His most recent campaign finance filings with the state Board of Elections show a balance of only $23,041.90, which includes a self-financed $3,000 loan, a $10,000 contribution from 5Pointz developer Jerry Wolkoff and a $7,500 donation from David Mack, former Metropolitan Transportation Authority and Port Authority board member who resigned in 2009 under political pressure after failing to cooperate with an investigation into the State Police.
Reach reporter Rich Bockmann by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 718-260-4574.