As Queens DA recount drags on, Katz spends big on public relations, while Cabán pours funds into legal fees

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Photo: Mark Hallum/QNS

If one thing has become clear in the recent round of filings with the Board of Elections in the Queens district attorney race, it’s that the two frontrunners seem to be placing their chips on much different strategies in their post-primary battle.

While Tiffany Cabán has raised over $203,000 between July 1 and 11 alone, the majority of her campaign’s spending has gone toward her two lawyers, Jerry Goldfeder and Renee Paradis. Melinda Katz, however, continues to pour hundreds of thousands into political strategists and public relations firms.

Filings logged with the BOE show that Cabán has so far paid Goldfeder $40,000 and Paradis $30,000 as they aid her effort to not only oversee the recount, but guide a litigation effort in Queens Supreme Court to validate up to 114 affidavit ballots rejected by the BOE.

Within the last month alone, Connective Strategies received over $115,500 from the Katz campaign and Red Horse Strategies was paid out $273,000. This is on brand with pre-primary filings that showed the Katz campaign had spent over $600,000 on services from Red Horse, a firm frequently used by candidates in Queens and even more frequently by candidates with the backing of the Queens County Democratic Party.

With sorting of ballots finished as of Friday, Monday marked the true begin of the full manual recount in the race. But the fight has only just begun for Cabán, who has launched a recruiting effort to bring volunteer attorneys and poll watchers on board to oversee the recount of over 91,000 ballots.

Both groups have accused the other attempting to undermine the recount in one form or another, with Katz and Queen Democratic Party Chair, Congressman Gregory Meeks, calling dialog from the Cabán campaign an ongoing attempt to disenfranchise black voters and discredit the BOE.

“This election is far from over, with many valid votes left to be counted. In the days ahead, the manual recount will yield potentially hundreds of additional votes that were not previously captured by voting machines and we will fight to make sure all valid votes are counted,” said Daniel Lumer, Cabán campaign spokesman. “At the same time, our team is prepared to move ahead in court to restore the ballots of dozens of eligible Democratic voters who are at risk of being disenfranchised. It’s disappointing that the Katz campaign has repeatedly lied about these efforts while refusing to agree in court that every legitimate vote must be counted. Our team is making every effort to protect the voting rights of all eligible Democrats across Queens, and we urge the Katz campaign to do the same.”

The two campaigns met in court on July 9 for a judge to reach a decision on the 114 affidavit sealed ballots rejected by the BOE, but the court was adjourned until the recount had concluded.

Katz attorney Frank Bolz has charged that the Cabán effort to redeem certain affidavits in court was an attempt to cherry-pick votes based on neighborhood.

“The Cabán camp has worked to undermine faith in the electoral system since Election Night, and we trust that it will not attempt to do so as this crucial process begins,” Matthew Rey, a Katz spokesman, said on Sunday. “The recount process is by nature a slow and meticulous one, with multiple checks and balances. It must run its course until every legally valid vote is counted.”

As the recount kicked into gear in earnest early Monday in Middle Village, Bolz was the first to object to a vote based on a distinguishing mark that rendered the voters intentions unclear and the board supported this claim. The ballot was then placed in a folder labeled “Objected” which the Cabán campaign claimed they would later contest.

Fighting every single vote, teams for Cabán and Katz are looking to close a gap of 16 votes which currently favors the latter candidate.

The tight margin of less than a percentage point triggered the recount in the first place, but according to Goldfeder, a significant margin is not required for a victory to be declared upon reaching a conclusive number.

Lumer has also claimed that the Cabán campaign continues to reject all real estate industry funds.

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