City Council campaign spending differs across the board

By Tom Momberg

Bob Friedrich has now come out as the top fund-raiser in the off-season City Council race for Mark Weprin’s former seat in the northeast Queens district. He has surpassed Satnam Parhar, Rebecca Lynch, Ali Najmi and Barry Grodenchik, the other campaign leaders for funds raised.

Friedrich, who once ran for state Assembly and for the same District 23 council seat against Weprin, raised over $28,000 in private funds, according to his financial disclosure reports. But he also raised about $60,500 in public funds through the city Campaign Finance Board’s matching funds program, which matches six-to-one from the city’s general fund any money raised from private city residents.

Parhar, a South Asian community advocate and president of the India Association of Long Island, was the last candidate to jump into the race for the seat, which covers Bellerose, Oakland Gardens, Queens Village and Glen Oaks. But he has been grabbing up funds quickly.

With more than $21,500 in private funds raised from his month-long campaign, Parhar also obtained about $46,500 from the CFB’s matching funds program, making him the second-biggest fund-raiser.

Candidates who raise or spend more than $1,000 on their campaigns are required to report that in their disclosures to the state Board of Elections. The The deadline for the July periodic report was July 15 and must have included any earning or spending activity up through July 12, according to the state BOE.

Parhar, who filed his petition to run with the state BOE June 18, failed to submit his July periodic report in time and may be in violation of election law, state BOE spokesman Tom Connolly said.

Parhar campaign spokesman Donald Kaplan confirmed he missed the June report. But Kaplan insisted he was in compliance and is preparing the August periodic report for submission by the end of this week.

With just about a month left until the primary election on Thursday, Sept. 10, candidates for the Democratic nomination to the City Council seat are in full-swing spending mode. But Friedrich, who raised nearly $89,000, has also spent the least.

There was little listed on the expenditure report Friedrich filed with the state BOE, besides $1,500 in petition expenses in filing to run.

Only three other candidates have filed the required expenditure reports with the state BOE: attorney and activist Ali Najmi, who has been the race’s biggest spender, Barry Grodenchik and Rebecca Lynch.

Najmi’s aggressive spending of about $18,500 paid for office rent as well as for canvassing and voter contact services and an election attorney.

Najmi, a second South Asian running for the seat who raised about $57,000, said his campaign team just chose to invest money early in the election to be able to reach more voters.

“We spent this money because we believe in prioritizing talking to people in the district,” Najmi campaign Spokesman Mohammad Khan said. “We started contacting voters on day one at their door steps to tell them about Ali’s historic candidacy and our plan for a better and safer Queens.

Lynch, former deputy commissioner of the Mayor’s Community Affairs Office, reported spending about $5,400 of the $62,000 she raised in her July periodic expenditure report, most of which was used to pay individuals for collecting signatures for her petition to run for office.

Grodenchik, the director of community boards and parks for the borough president, reported spending just less than $8,000 of his $54,000 raised, most of which went toward the salaries of his campaign workers, campaign literature and petition expenses.

Celia Dosamantes, the third South Asian vying for Weprin’s former Council position, was second to Najmi in the amount spent on her campaign, doling out about $16,400 for an election attorney, petitioners and strategic services.

Joe Concannon, the only candidate running on the Conservative and Republican party lines, spent about $700 more than the almost $8,900 he raised for his campaign, according to the city CFB, but had nothing to report when he filed his July periodic expenditure report.

Reach reporter Tom Momberg by e-mail at tmomberg@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4573.